Catalog Archive
Auction 191, Lot 820

One of the Finest English Atlases of the Period

"[Composite Atlas with 60 Maps] Cary's New Universal Atlas, Containing Distinct Maps of All the Principal States and Kingdoms Throughout the World...", Cary, John

Subject: Atlases

Period: 1808 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

15.3 x 22.3 inches
38.9 x 56.6 cm
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This large composite atlas contains 60 double-page maps and is identical in content (though collated differently) to Cary's first edition New Universal Atlas published in 1808. Cary's atlas was one of the finest of the period and served as source material for American mapmakers. David Rumsey notes that "[Henry] Tanner directly copied the World and continental maps for his New American Atlas." The atlas features maps of the world (3), Europe (36), Asia (2), Africa (2), Western Hemisphere (1), North America (8), and South America (2). Maps of the Russian Empire and South America are printed on two sheets, while the map of Scotland is presented on four sheets. Of particular interest are the following:

A. A New Map of the United States of America, from the Latest Authorities. This handsome map is one of the best maps of the United States to appear in the early part of the nineteenth century. It covers the country from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the Mississippi River, beyond which is a small portion of Louisiana Territory. The huge Western Territory is comprised of today's Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. The 1795 Boundary Line by the Treaty of Grenville is delineated across present-day Ohio. The District of Main is drawn from the British point of view with the northern portion incorporated into Lower Canada and New Brunswick. The huge Georgia Territory stretches to the Mississippi River, incorporating present-day Alabama and Mississippi. Florida is divided into the Spanish possessions of East and West Florida. The map is filled with place names, forts, Indian villages and hunting grounds, roads and interesting notations.

B. A New Map of Part of the United States of North America, Exhibiting the Western Territory, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia &c. Also, the Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Ontario & Erie; with Upper and Lower Canada &c. This map shows the early frontier during a period when the young United States was rapidly settling the territory between the Allegany Mountains and its boundary on the Mississippi River. The present-day states of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota are all contained within the large Western Territory. Lake Superior still shows the imaginary Isle Philippeaux, and native tribes are named throughout the map. Bounty Land Grants for the Illinois Company and the Wabash Company are named near the Illinois and Wabash rivers. Navigational and historical notes are scattered throughout the map, and roads are well-delineated. One of the most interesting of those notations is one in Kentucky that describes the region discovered by J. Macbride in 1754, explored by Daniel Boon in 1769, and settled by Boon and 'five others' in 1773.

C. A New Map of Part of the United States of North America, Containing the Carolinas and Georgia. Also the Floridas and Part of the Bahama Islands &c. from the Latest Authorities. This is a wonderful map of the Southeast issued during a period of rapid change and advancement. East and West Florida exist as separate territories. West Florida was not annexed into the United States until 1810. Portions of it became Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. The map is filled with information on the roads, portages, forts, Indian villages, settlements and topography. It is also remarkable for the many interesting notes, including the Principal Hunting Grounds of the Western Party and Six Villages in Mississippi, here shown as part of the large Georgia Territory. In Florida, Fort St. Marks, Apalacha Fort, and the roads from St. Augustine are shown, with a note that the Apalachees Villages are now almost all deserted. Southern Florida is labeled Ancient Tegesta. A lake and river system connects Mayaco Lake (Lake Okeechobee) with the St. Johns River. The map extends to provide good detail of the Bahamas including a notation on Guanihani or Cat Island that it was the first Land of America Discovered by Columbus - a common misconception of the period.

The single-sheet title page for this composite atlas is dated 1803 with title Cary's New Universal Atlas, though the maps are dated 1799-1807. Sheets 1-30 are slightly larger than sheets 31-60, suggesting that these two groups came from different printings. Despite the 1803 title page, the atlas is known to have been first published in its entirety in 1808 (Fordham, Phillips, Tooley and others), and all past sales records and institutional holdings indicate a publishing date of 1808 or later. Rebound in quarter faux leather over beige boards with title label on the front cover and the previous spine labels have been pasted on top. There is a manuscript table of contents on the front free-endpaper, and some extraneous maps at the end of the volume have been removed. A unique and well-preserved example of Cary's atlas.

References: Phillips (Atlases) #714; The Map Collector #43, pp. 40-47.

Condition: B+

Excellent impressions on sturdy sheets with full contemporary color. There is light offsetting throughout (common for Cary maps) and some minor creasing to a few maps including Poland, Hungary, and the United States. There are manuscript notations in the margins of the Italy and Spain/Portugal maps, and some minor staining along the sheet edges of some maps. Modern binding is near fine with minor shelf wear.

Estimate: $4,750 - $6,000

Sold for: $4,000

Closed on 2/8/2023