Catalog Archive
Auction 188, Lot 150

The Third Derivative of Capt. John Smith's Foundation Map of Virginia

"Virginia - Erforshet und Beschriben durch Capitain Iohan Schmidt", Merian, Matthaus

Subject: Colonial Mid-Atlantic United States

Period: 1627 (circa)

Publication: Grands Voyages, Part XIII

Color: Black & White

14.2 x 11.6 inches
36.1 x 29.5 cm
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John Smith's map was the most important map of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay of the seventeenth century. It was the prototype map of the region and was instrumental in creating interest in the new Virginia colony. The map depicts a number of explorations and observations made by Smith and the Jamestown settlers, with small crosses marking the range of those explorations. The information on the locations of the Indian tribes and villages is very extensive; in fact it is still in use by archaeologists today. The engraving is adorned by a decorative and functional thirty-two point compass rose placed in the Atlantic at lower left, and is a good example of a transitional compass rose. The rhumb lines extend from the compass, but only as far as the coastline so as not to interfere with the more useful depiction of topography and settlements. Eventually, land maps would phase out the use of compass roses. The other decorative elements that fill the map, including Powhatan's Council and a Susquehannock Indian, are based on John White's drawings made during the first attempt to form a colony in Virginia (present-day North Carolina), as published in the first part of Theodore de Bry's Grand Voyages. This third derivative of Smith's map accompanied the 13th part of the Grand Voyages, which was published posthumously by his son-in-law, Matthaus Merian.

See also lot 809 for R.V. Tooley's The Mapping of America that describes this map.

References: Burden #219; Tooley (Amer) p. 163-4 #3, plt 71; Garratt (TMC-9) p. 9; #G39; Reinhartz, pp. 6-7.

Condition: B+

An excellent impression with professional repairs to a 3.5" tear at bottom center and to several chips along the edges of the sheet, including one that entered the image at bottom right with a 3.5" portion of the border skillfully replaced in facsimile. The "310" latitude number outside of the neatline at right and left have also been replaced in facsimile.

Estimate: $5,000 - $6,000

Sold for: $4,000

Closed on 6/22/2022