Overton's rare and decorative map of North America is one of the most fascinating large format English maps of America published in the 18th Century.
The present example of the map was printed with four copper plates, two for the map and two outer panels, each made up of five views. The views on the left are Havana; Panama; Porto Rico (San Juan); Cartagena; and Porto Bello (which had been seized by Admiral Vernon, to whom the first and second editions of the map are dedicated). The views on the right are Boston; New York; Mexico (City); Vera Cruz; and Chagre (also taken by Admiral Vernon).
There are two recorded states of this map (the present example being the third and previously unknown 1759 edition of the map). The first edition of the map was issued in 1741. The map was likely made by Overton to celebrate the early victories of Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon over Spain in War of Jenkins' Ear. This war lasted between1739-1743 and started off well for British, bringing acclaim to Vernon.
The lower right and left images on the map, Porto Bello and Chagre depict his two major victories. Admiral Vernon claims an interesting footnote in American History. Many American colonists took part in the War of Jenkin's Ear, including a young officer named Lawrence Washington. Lawrence was so impressed with the Admiral that he named his ancestral home in Virginia after him, thus the name Mount Vernon. Lawrence Washington did not have any descendants and the home eventually passed to Lawrence's half-brother, George Washington.
Henry Overton took over his father's map business in 1707 and issued a wide range of maps until 1749. His work generally was issued separately, as in the case of this map. Very few impressions of this map are known to exist.
We know of two other examples having been offer in the past thirty years, a 1745 example which was sold in 1992 to a private collector and an example of the first state in the Slaughter Collection at the New York Public Library. The following differences have been noted between the two known states, 1741 and 1745: In the first state, the map is printed on two plates, right and left and joined in the center. In the second state the two side panels of views are now separate plates. It is likely that Overton cut the panels off between states so that they could be used with another map. The second state also includes the addition of a portrait of Admiral Vernon above the title cartouche. This circular area is blank in the first state.
This third state of the map includes a number of new changes. The date is changed to 1759. The dedication of the map is made to Vice Admiral Edmund Boscanwen, Esq., and the portrait has also been changed. The French claims in the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys are no longer in evidence, Georgia and Savana [sic] are added and there are other changes within the map. Edward Boscawen (1711-1761) was a carrier officer in the Biriths Navy. In 1730, he distinguished himself at the taking of Porto Bello. At the siege of Cartagena in 1741, he led a party of seamen to take a battery of fifteen 24-pound cannon while exposed to the fire of another fort. In 1748, he was made rear-admiral and commander-in-chief of the expedition to the East Indies. In 1758 he was appointed admiral of the blue and commander-in-chief of the expedition to Cape Breton when in conjunction with General Amherst he took the fortress of Louisburg and the island of Cape Breton. In 1759, he was being appointed to command in the Mediterranean. In 1760, he appointed General of the Marines and made a member of the Privy Council.