SMITH, Captain John (1580-1631)
New England. The most remarqueable parts thus named. by the high and mighty Prince Charles, nowe King of great Britaine
London: Printed by James Reeve, . Copper engraved map, engraved by Simon de Passe. With an oval portrait of Smith in the upper left corner titled "The Portraictuer of Captayne John Smith / Admirall of New England" and with a poem in homage to Smith below. With the arms of the Council of New England in the center of the map. Neatly repaired tear extending from the left margin. State 9. Sheet size: 12 1/4 x 14 3/8 inches.
One of the legendary early maps of Colonial America: "the foundation map of New England cartography, the one that gave [New England] its name and the first devoted to the region" (Burden 187). This copy is the rare final state, with the correct location of Boston shown and named.
After a period of inactivity following his Virginia escapades, Captain John Smith was invited by four London merchants to explore the coastline north of Virginia, with instructions to return with a profitable cargo. Smith arrived off the Kennebec River with two ships in May 1614. One of Smith's ships concentrated on catching fish and gathering other valuable commodities, while Smith continued down the coast to chart and explore. Smith immediately recognized the poor state of the existing cartography for the region. He noted that he had six or seven maps "of those northern parts, so unlike each to other, and most so differing from any true proportion, or resemblance of the Countrey, as they did me no more good, then so much waste paper." Returning to England in December 1615, Smith had the map published with his A Description of New England in June 1616. According to a legend on the map, much of the nomenclature was provided by Charles, Prince of Wales, the future Charles I. Several of these placenames are still in use, including Cape Anne, Charles River, and Plymouth. The decorative elements were engraved by the outstanding Dutch engraver Simon de Passe, who worked in London from 1616 to 1621. De Passe was most famous for his portraits. Griffiths notes that de Passe's English portraits "marked an epoch not only in the British print but in the development of European portrait engraving," most importantly for his introduction of "a new type of auricular frame ... It is curious that such an advanced type should first be popularized in England." The separately dated ("Ao 1616") portrait of Smith on the map, which may have been de Passe's first published in England, predates his auricular style. But the "scale of leagues" in the lower right corner clearly exhibits the "extraordinary curling and folding decoration" that he soon incorporated into his portrait frames. De Passe may have also been responsible for the map itself, but it was probably Robert Clark, whose name appears below de Passe's, who engraved the topographical detail. This is state nine of the map, which appeared in the atlas Historia Mundi, published in London between 1635 and 1639. For this state, Reeve's imprint appears in the lower right corner, the arms of the Council of New England have been added at the center of the map, a school of fish appears off of Cape Cod, text relating to Wood's New England Prospect appears below the compass rose and the town of Boston is shown in the correct location (previously appearing near present day York, Maine).
Benes, New England Prospect, 3; Burden, Mapping of North America I: 187 (state 9); Deak, Picturing America, 19; Fite & Freeman, A Book of Old Maps, 34; Krieger & Cobb, Mapping Boston, pp. 82-83; McCorkle, New England in Early Printed Maps, 614.1; Degrees of Latitude, 6; Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, plate 53; Suarez, Shedding the Veil, 42. For Simon de Passe, see Anthony Griffiths, The Print in Stuart Britain 1603-1689, pp. 56-63.