Catalog Archive
Auction 168, Lot 43

Beautiful English Map of the North Pole

"A Map of the North-Pole and the Parts Adioining", Pitt, Moses

Subject: North Pole

Period: 1680 (dated)

Publication: The English Atlas

Color: Hand Color

23.1 x 18 inches
58.7 x 45.7 cm

This is undoubtedly the most attractive English map of the North Pole and Arctic regions. The map combines some out-dated cartography with a solid view of Hudson and Baffin bays. In Canada the unusual three-island configuration of northern Labrador is derived in part from Sanson's map of 1656. Pitt includes the mythical island of Freesland complete with several place names, and Forbishers Strait bisects the southern tip of Greenland. Cartographically the map is notable for the small inset map of Nova Zembla with an explanation that new information had arrived from Russia indicating that it was joined to the mainland instead of being an island as shown on the main map. The superb title cartouche emphasizes the importance of whaling in the region with whaling scenes, walruses, narwhals, and Inuits in their kayaks. A magnificent coat of arms dedicates the map to Charles Fitz Charles, Earl of Plymouth.

This is the only original work prepared by Pitt for his ill-fated and uncompleted atlas. It was likely engraved by Michael Burghers, a Dutch emigrant who became the official engraver to the University of Oxford. The atlas was projected to be a 12 volume work in the tradition of the earlier Dutch atlases and was to use updated copperplates belonging to Johannes Jansson van Waesberge, son-in-law and heir of Jan Jansson. Only 4 volumes were completed before the venture failed and Pitt was thrown into debtor's prison.

References: Shirley (BL Atlases) T.PITT-1a #3; Kershaw #120.

Condition: A

A crisp impression on watermarked paper with a few tiny worm holes, the largest of which has been professionally infilled. A centerfold separation at bottom has been professionally repaired, obscuring a very minor portion of the border.

Estimate: $3,500 - $4,250

Sold for: $2,500

Closed on 6/6/2018