DES BARRES, J.F.W. (1721?-1824)
[A group of six views printed on a single plate] `A View of Cape Egmont and Winter Rock from the Eastward.'; `Entrance of Egmont Harbor.'; `The Entrance of Keppel Harbor, 10 Leagues to the Eastward of Halifax.'; `Falls of Hinchinbroke River, the North East Branch of Sandwich Bay.'; `The Entrance into Chisetcook Inlet 4 Leagues Eastward of Halifax.'; `Dartmouth Shore in the Harbor of Halifax'.
[London: Published by J.F.W. Des Barres in 'The Atlantic Neptune', nd, 1777]. Hand-colored etching on Bates paper. No imprint. Sheet size: 32 1/4 x 23 3/4 inches with center fold, as with all early issues. Expert restoration to center fold and marginal tears.
A set of six navigational views of Halifax Harbour and nearby coastal area, from one of the most important North American marine atlases
This group includes four profile views intended as aids to navigation. The profiles were intended for use by captains of vessels to identify exactly where they were in relation to distant shorelines; added to these is a charming roundel giving a picturesque view of a waterfall on the Hinchinbroke River and finally a tranquil view in Halifax harbour which is enlivened by the small scene in the lower right of the image where, amid clouds of steam, men work frantically to re-tar the hull of a man-of-war.
This finely coloured example of the print corresponds to Stevens 51, first state without stamped plate number.
'The Atlantic Neptune ' was the first great marine atlas, and one of the greatest achievements of eighteenth century cartography. Published in England in 1774, it contained over 250 charts and views of the North American and Canadian coasts. The charts were intensely detailed and contained both hydrographical and topographical details. The Neptune was compiled and published for the Royal Navy by Joseph F. W. Des Barres, a Swiss cartographer who joined the Royal American Regiment as a surveyor. Des Barres fought in the French and Indian wars and was enlisted to survey the Canadian coastline. While his fellow surveyor, Samuel Holland charted the New England coast, Des Barres mapped the shoreline of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and the St. Lawrence River regions. In 1774, Des Barres returned to England where he compiled and published his monumental atlas; his dedication to the project was so strong that he published an updated version of the work every year until 1784. Des Barres' work was so superior to any other contemporary atlas, that the maps were used as the standard charts of the East coast for over 50 years. The Neptune remains one of the most important atlases ever printed, its views and maps chart the history of North America and allow us to glimpse forgotten shores long changed with the passage of time.
Spendlove, The Face of Early Canada , Chapter 4: "J.F.W. Des Barres and The Atlantic Neptune"; pp. 18-22; Debard, "The Family Origins of Joseph Fredericks Wallet DesBarres: A Riddle Finally Solved", Nova Scotia Historical Review, Vol 14, No. 2 (1994), p.15; Stevens 51A.