Catalog Archive
Auction 132, Lot 390

"[Atlantic Ocean and position of the Gulf Stream - complete with Volume]", Williams, Jonathan

Subject: Atlantic Ocean

Period: 1793 (dated)


Color: Black & White

16.3 x 8.2 inches
41.4 x 20.8 cm

This rare map was drawn in 1793 by Jonathan Williams and is accompanied by the original “Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Held in Philadelphia, for Promoting Useful Knowledge, Volume III” by the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia: Robert Aitken, 1793. The map shows the routes taken and measurement locations Williams used to prove the existence of the Gulf Stream. Williams' related article "On the Use of the Thermometer in Discovering Banks, Soundings, Etc." describes the methods used to prove the existence of the Gulf Stream, a theory first proposed by Benjamin Franklin in his famous paper published in Volume II . Williams accompanied Franklin in crossing the Atlantic in 1785 and another passage in 1789.

Volume 3, first edition, small quarto, 368 pp., plus 5 copper engraved plates (two folding, including Williams' chart of the Atlantic showing the Gulf Stream), and 1 folding table. The volume contains forty two papers including 4 by Benjamin Franklin, 4 by David Rittenhouse, 2 by Benjamin Barton Smith, 1 by Benjamin Rush, 3 by W. Waring, plus numerous other authors. Franklin's papers include "Conjectures Concerning the Formation of the Earth", "A New and Curious Theory of Light and Heat", Description of the Process to be Observed in Making Large Sheets of Paper in the Chinese Manner", and "Queries and Conjectures relative to Magnetism and the Theory of the Earth. The volume contains papers on a miscellany of subjects ranging from observations and explanations of astronomical and meteorological phenomena (lightning, evaporation, temperature, comet, climate); biological and medical topics (human life span, description of the Sugar Maple and methods of making sugar, preventing consequences of a Rattlesnake bite, observations on Cryptograms, Cassia Chamaecrista, new poisonous plant in Virginia, Honey Bees, Podophyllum Diphyllum, etc.); archeology (dies of North American Indians, ancient works of art of the western country); engineering (water wells, spring blocks, pond draining, well vapors, weights and measures, ship navigation, mathematics), and various curiosities of nature. A difficult volume to locate due to the historical importance of the Franklin papers, the Williams paper with Gulf Stream chart, and its representation of early US scientific material.


Condition: B+

The map was issued folded, now backed with archival tissue. Dark, early impression and full margins. The map has some foxing in lower half, the folded binding edge at right has some chips and two folds with slight separation, supported by backing. The volume boards are missing and lower portion of spine is detached. Leather powdery. The text has light toning, offsetting and foxing. Plates with some offsetting and foxing. The Williams map is detached and has been archivally backed with Japanese paper.

Estimate: $1,000 - $1,400


Closed on 6/2/2010