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John Smith's Map of Virginia -- First German Edition

Fine dark impression of John Smith's seminal map of Virginia, which appears in part 13 of Theodore de Bry's Grand Voyages, Dreyzehender Theil Americae, published posthumously by De Bry's son-in-law, Matheus Merian.

Smith's map was by far the most important map of Virginia published in the first part of the 17th century. First issued in 1612, it became the prototype map of the region until Augustine Hermann's map of 1673. Smith's map was first issued separately in London. Later, it was used to illustrate a number of rare works on Virginia and was instrumental in creating interest in the new Virginia Colony. The map records 166 Indian villages and is to this day source material for Native American Archaeologists.

In 1606, the London Company sent its first ship to Virginia and established the Jamestown settlement. Among the passengers was Captain John Smith, who would explore the region and create this map, which upon his return to London he had engraved by William Hole, in 1612. The map depicts a number of explorations and observations of Smith and the Jamestown settlers. There is some question as to whether the map is the work of Smith, who led most of the explorations, or the surveyor accompanying him, Nathaniel Powell. However, convention attributes the map to John Smith as his name appears on it in two publications by him and in a third by Samuel Purchas who accredits Smith.

Watch Geography Geek's Video on John Smith's Map:

John Smith's Virginia Map

The Merian/De Bry edition of Smith's Virginia is drawn from the sixth English state of Smith's map. The first six editions of Smith's map are all very rare, pre-dating the appearance of the Smith map in Samuel Purchas' Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes; Containing a History of the World, in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells, by Englishmen and Others in 1625 - the first time Smith's map appeared in a work which achieved a more widespread distribution. The Merian 1627 edition of the Smith map is also quite scarce, as parts 13 and 14 of De Bry's Grand Voyages are rare and often lack maps. A later version of Merian's edition of the Smith map appears in 1634, when the 13th and 14th parts of De Bry were consolidated into a single part and translated into Latin.

The Merian edition 3 of Smith's Virginia has very minor alternations to the decorative embellishments of the sixth state: The ship in the lower left and decoration surrounding the scale have been removed. It includes images of an Indian figure and Powhatan's lodge, based on John White's drawings made during the first attempt to form a colony in Virginia. White's images also appear in part 1 of De Bry's Grand Voyages. The annotations are in German.

A seminal map for regional collectors.

Burden #164 and #219.
Matthaus Merian Biography

Mathaus Merian (1593-1650) was the father of engraver Matthäus the Younger, and of the painter, engraver, and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian. He was born in Basel, Switzerland and trained in engraving in Zurich. After a time in Nancy, Paris and Strasbourg, he settled in Frankfurt. While there, he worked for Johann Theodor de Bry, the publisher and son of the travel writer. In 1617, he married Maria Magdalena de Bry, Johann Theodor’s daughter. In 1623, Merian took over the de Bry publishing house upon the death of his father-in-law. Merian’s best known works are detailed town views which, due to their accuracy and artistry, form a valuable record of European urban life in the first half of the sixteenth century