NORMAN, John; and Osgood CARLETON
Chart from New York to Timber Island including Nantucket Shoals from the latest Surveys
Boston: printed and sold by John Norman, . Copper engraved sea chart, on seven sheets, unjoined. Greatest dimensions (if joined): approximately 50 x 76 inches.
Rare complete copy of the first edition of Norman's chart of the New England coast line.
The American Revolution brought an end to Britain's leading role in the mapping of America. The task now fell to the American publishing industry still in its infancy, but with first-hand access to the new surveys that were documenting the rapid growth of the nation. In particular, there was a need for nautical charts for use by the expanding New England commercial fleets. The first American marine atlas, Mathew Clark's A Complete Set of Charts of the Coast of America, was published in Boston in 1790. Two of Clark's charts had been engraved by John Norman, who was inspired to launch his own enterprise. In January 1790, Norman published a notice in the Boston Gazette stating he was currently engraving charts of all the coast of America on a large scale. These were assembled and published as The American Pilot in Boston in 1791. Norman's Pilot, the second American marine atlas, indeed the second American atlas of any kind, marked an advance over the earlier work of Mathew Clark. The present map is among the most impressive from the atlas. Printed on seven sheets, the map joins to an irregular shape (sometimes described as an inverted T or inverted L shape). As the title suggests, the map depicts the entire coastline, from Manhattan Island in the south west, to Timber Island, Maine. Besides an accurate depiction of the coastline based on Holland's surveys, the map includes shoals and soundings, and with both coastal and inland towns and waterways. As the cartouche states, the map, and indeed the entire atlas, includes an attestation by Osgood Carleton (described as a "Teacher of Navigation and other Branches of the Mathematics"), certifying its accuracy. New editions of Norman's Pilot appeared in 1792 and 1794, and after his death, his son William Norman, brought out editions in 1794, 1798, 1801, and 1803. The present map is Wheat & Brun's second state, i.e. from the 1794 edition preceding John Norman's death, with the inclusion of the right extension sheet showing George's Bank, the inclusion of the northernmost sheet extending the map to Timber Island and with roads added connecting towns north of Boston. Later editions included a number of changes, most notably excluding the George's Bank and northernmost sheets. Despite the seemingly large number of editions, The American Pilot is one of the rarest of all American atlases. Wheat and Brun locate just ten complete copies for the first five editions: 1791 (Huntington, Harvard); 1792 (Library of Congress, Clements); 1794(1) (Library of Congress, John Carter Brown Library, Boston Public Library); 1794(2) (Yale); 1798 (Library of Congress, Boston Public Library). Only one other example of this map has appeared at auction in the last quarter century, being a later 19th century issue without the additional two sheets (Swann Galleries, 5 December 2013, selling for $37,500).
Wheat & Brun 157 (state 2); McCorke 791.4; Suarez, Shedding the Veil 60 (1801 edition); Bosse, "The Boston Map Trade of the Eighteenth Century" in Mapping Boston, pp. 49-52.