Old color example of this detailed set of 2 charts by Des Barres, whose charts of America are the most sought after of all 18th Century American charts.
The large inset chart at the top shows the area from Roosevelt Island and Midtown Manahattan to Flushing Bay and College Point, along with Hunt Point on the opposite side of the Bay. The primary map extends from Oyster Bay, Oak Neck and Hog Island to Eaton Neck, Huntington Bay and Cow Harbor. The map shows soundings, anchorages (including the projected Lloyd's Harbor and topographical details. The map last appeared in a dealer catalogue in Arkway Catalogue XXXI (1986).
Des Barres's Atlantic Neptune contains the coasts of Nova Scotia (volumes 1 and 2), the coasts and harbors of the Gulf and River of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic coast of North America from New York to Mexico (volume 3) and New England (volume 4). A British military engineer with long service in America, Des Barres devoted sixteen years to the publication of his masterpiece. Copies of The Atlantic Neptune were compiled as they were ordered, principally for naval captains or merchant mariners, and therefore no standard collation exists and no two recorded copies will contain the same compliment of charts, nor be bound in exactly the same sequence.
As noted by Cohen & Augustyn,
Nautical charting took an unprecedented leap toward greater precision and graphic sophistication with the publication of Des Barres's Atlantic Neptune... The Neptune provided the first generally accurate charts of many areas, and it was relied upon well into the nineteenth century. Des Barres also standardized many of the symbols, such as for navigational hazards, that are found on nautical charts to this day... Not only were Des Barres's charts technically superior to earlier works, but they were also objects of fine printing and possessed an artistry that transcended their utilitarian purpose. Moreover, this was achieved on works that were often breathtakingly large in scale, with some charts measuring over ten feet in length... Most of the surveys on which the charts of the Neptune were based were conducted between 1763 and 1773. Des Barres was then commissioned to assemble these surveys, which included his own fine work in Nova Scotia, prepare their engraving, and have them bound into usable format. Surveys of the New York and New England areas were carried out by various officers under the command of Major Samuel Holland, one of the most capable of all colonial cartographers... In some but not all cases, Des Barres provided the names of the actual surveyors of the charts... When war with the American colonies broke out, the need for good charts of American waters became imperative, and in the years prior to the war, Des Barres project was given high priority. Between 1776 and 1779, Des Barres and his more than twenty assistants had taken over two London townhouses to complete the Neptune.
Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres (1721-1824) was born in either Paris or Basel, Switzerland, to a Hugueont family. He studied under the great mathematician Daniel Bernoulli at the University of Basel before immigrating to Britain, where he trained at the Royal Military College, Woolwich.
Upon the outbreak of hostilities with France in 1756, he joined the British Royal American Regiment as a military engineer. He came to the attention of General James Wolfe, who was impressed with his charting ability. During this period, he also worked with the legendary future explorer, James Cook, on a monumental chart of the St. Lawrence River.
Des Barres is best known for the Atlantic Neptune, was a remarkable, multi-volume set of sea charts and coastal views prepared from recent surveys, some of which were overseen by Des Barres in Nova Scotia after the Seven Years’ War. The maps, charts, and views were prepared under the supervision of Des Barres and employed as many as twenty engravers and assistants. They were produced over the course of a decade, from 1774 to 1784, in time to be used by the Royal Navy in the American Revolution.
After the Revolution, Loyalists were resettled throughout Canada. As part of this process, a new colony was created by separating Cape Breton from Nova Scotia. Des Barres, who already owned extensive lands in the Maritimes, served as lieutenant governor of Cape Breton Island from 1784 to 1787. He later served as governor of Prince Edward Island from 1804-1812.
Des Barres lived an exceptionally long life, even by today's standards, finally dying at age 102. Des Barres' funeral was held at St. George's Round Church in 1824 and he is buried in Halifax.