A New Atlas of the British West Indies, with a Whole Sheet General Map of the West India Islands, and a Whole Sheet Map of the Island of Hispaniola, or St. Domingo. Engraved to accompany the Philadelphia edition of Edwards's History of the West Indies
Philadelphia: James Humphreys, 1806. Small folio. (11 1/2 x 10 3/4 inches). Letterpress title, half sheet letterpress list of plates, 11 engraved maps (3 folding). On guards throughout. Uncut.
Expertly bound to style in half tree calf and period marbled paper covered boards.
A rare early American atlas.
First American edition, published to accompany the Philadelphia edition of Bryan Edwards's History of the West Indies, first published in London in 1793. Bryan Edwards (1743-1800) was a British politician and sometime Jamaica planter, noted for his history of the West Indies. The work had a particular appeal in Philadelphia, due to the many Quaker merchants in the city active in the West Indian sugar trade. This production is notable as a piece of early American cartography. The first American atlas of any kind was produced in 1794 by Matthew Carey, also of Philadelphia. James Humphreys (1748-1810) was an ambitious Philadelphia printer who began printing prior to the Revolution. His unwillingness to openly side with the American cause during the war resulted in his being labeled as a Loyalist, which had a somewhat negative impact on his later career. He left Philadelphia with the British, moving to New York and then later to England and Nova Scotia before returning to Philadelphia in 1797 to reestablish his press. This handsome atlas volume is one of the most important things published by him in his later career. The maps were engraved by Joseph H. Seymour, an American-trained engraver who began working for Isaiah Thomas as early as 1791. He worked for Thomas extensively until relocating to Philadelphia from about 1803 to 1822, where he continued his trade as an engraver, producing this atlas volume among other works. The maps are as follows: "A General Map of the West Indies," as well as individual maps of Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincents, Dominica, St. Christopher and Nevis, Antigua, the Virgin Islands, Tobago, and Hispaniola. The General Map, as well as the maps of Jamaica and Hispaniola are larger, folding sheets.
Shaw & Shoemaker 10342; Phillips, Maps, p. 1060; Phillips, Atlases 2704 (1810 edition).