Auction 169, Lot 383

Rare Broadside with First Known Published Engraving of Battle of Cartagena

"A New Plan of the Harbour, City & Forts of Cartagena; with the Progress of the Britain Fleet in Their Several Stations & Attacks from the 4th of March 1741...",

Subject: Cartagena, Colombia

Period: 1741 (dated)


Color: Black & White

11.1 x 6.4 inches
28.2 x 16.3 cm

This extremely rare broadside was one of the very first engravings of the Battle of Cartagena published in Britain. Published on May 25, 1741 -- before Britain learned of their defeat in the battle -- this broadside includes one of the first maps of the conflict. The Battle of Cartagena was a large-scale attack by British and American colonial troops during the War of Jenkins' Ear, part of the War of the Austrian Succession. The attack was led by Admiral Edward Vernon, who, although unsuccessful in Cartagena, gained much acclaim for his victories elsewhere in the Caribbean. Although the battle ended in May, news of the English defeat did not reach Europe until June. In early May, while the British seemingly had the upper hand in the battle, Admiral Vernon dispatched Captain William Laws to London with news of their success thus far. Laws arrived on May 17 and relayed the information of the battle, which was published as early as May 19. Laws' map of the battle was not published until May 29. This broadside includes a map and text apparently from Mr. Richardson aboard the HMS Norfolk. It is not known whether Mr. Richardson was present during the Battle of Cartagena or from whom he received this information.

The map highlights the defenses of the port and bay and the course of the English fleet. The town of Cartagena is presented in a simple block pattern, with various forts and castles surrounding the bay, and numerous locations identified in a lettered key at bottom. The key serves as a timeline for various actions taken during the battle, including the locations where ships made land, attacks on various forts, and the sinking or taking of various ships. Of particular note is location "P," which is the only item within the key that does not identify a past action and pinpoints "the place where it is proposed to make the descent, for taking the city."

The text below the map includes a fascinating perspective of Cartagena. As the title suggests, the text describes the city, harbor and forts of Cartagena in great detail, enabling the British reader to visualize the area and its fortifications. The population of the city is estimated at 30,000, and the city is described as rich in gold and emeralds. However it is noted that the English would not be able to benefit from these riches, as the inhabitants of Cartagena routinely sent their wealth away from the city as soon as they spotted enemies approaching. The last paragraph compares the battle led by Vernon with the successful raid on Cartagena undertaken by French privateer Bernard Desjean, Baron de Pointis in 1697. The author explains the numerous ways in which Cartagena is now more heavily fortified than in 1697, yet despite the increased difficulty of attacking, "our Admiral forced his way." The map was engraved by Tho. Smith and the broadside was published by T. Cooper on May 25, 1741. The full sheet with English text measures 12.3 x 15.3". Adjacent to the publisher's imprint is the list price for the map: "Price Four Pence." This map also appeared on a separate page in the May 1741 issue of Scots Magazine, published in Edinburgh, with the key and text incorporated within the general text of the magazine. The text in Scots Magazine does not include the last paragraph of this broadside comparing the battles of Vernon and Pointis. The example in Scots Magazine was likely published after this broadside as evidenced by a recounting of Edinburgh events within the magazine dating through May 28.

This map is very rare, as we have only found three other examples of this map listed for sale in the last 40 years.

References: cf. Jolly #SCOT-1; Kapp (MCC-77) #68.

Condition: B+

A dark impression on paper with a small medallion watermark, light soiling, and some extraneous creasing. An excellent example of this separately issued sheet.

Estimate: $1,000 - $1,400

Sold for: $1,100

Closed on 9/12/2018