First state of this rare sailing chart of the area around New York Harbor and Long Island, which was issued separately and in the first edition of Sayer & Bennett's North American Pilot.
This finely detailed chart is centered on Staten Island, York's Bay and Constable Point, extending north to Hells Gate, New York Island, Newtown Inlet, Bushwick Inlet, Wallabout Bay, Crown Point, the Battery and Ship Yards and south to the Shrewsbury River. The map extends East to include Amboy and the Raritan River, noting (Samuel?) Holland's House and east to Jamaica Bay and Plumb Island.
Details include soundings from Manhattan southward, shoals, navigable channels and rhumb lines. The light house at Sandy Hook is located, as are the lighthouses at New Utrecht and Gravesend,
The North American Pilot is among the rarest 18th Century sea atlases. Many of the maps are taken from surveys performed by British officers and surveyors whose work was left incomplete as a result of the American Revolution, who in turn sold the information or shared it with the commercial map and chart makers of the period, after the British were defeated and run out of the Colonies.
This is the first example of the Sayer & Bennett edition of the map we have offered in the past 20 years. The map was also re-issued in the 1790s by Laurie & Whittle.
Robert Sayer (ca. 1724-1794) was a prominent London map publisher. Robert’s father was a lawyer, but his older brother married Mary Overton, the widow of prominent mapmaker Philip Overton and the proprietor of his shop after his death. Mary continued the business for roughly a year after her marriage and then, in early 1748, it passed to Robert. Robert became a freeman of the Stationers’ Company later that year; his first advertisement as an independent publisher was released in December.
Sayer benefited from Overton’s considerable stock, which included the plates of John Senex. In the 1750s, Sayer specialized in design books and topographical prints, as well as comic mezzotints. In 1753, he, along with John Roque, published a new edition of Thomas Read’s Small British Atlas, the first of several county atlases that Sayer would publish.
Sayer’s business continued to grow. In 1760 he moved further down Fleet Street to larger premises at 53 Fleet Street. In 1766, he acquired Thomas Jefferys’ stock when the latter went bankrupt. In 1774, he entered into a partnership with John Bennett, his former apprentice. The pair specialized in American atlases, based on the work of Jefferys. They also began publishing navigational charts in the 1780s and quickly became the largest supplier of British charts in the trade.
Bennett’s mental health declined, and the partnership ended in 1784. As Sayer aged, he relied on his employees Robert Laurie and James Whittle, who eventually succeeded him. He spent more and more time at his house in Richmond. In 1794, he died in Bath.
John Bennett (fl. 1760-d. 1787) was a London printer best known for his role in the successful partnership of Sayer & Bennett. In 1760, Bennett became a servant of Robert Sayer (ca. 1724-1794), the prominent print and map seller, and was apprenticed to him in 1765. In 1774, Bennett became a free journeyman and entered into a partnership with Sayer. They issued joint advertisements and publications. In 1777, Bennett owned 1/3 share in the business. The partnership was likely to continue fruitfully, but in 1781 Bennett began to show signs of mental illness. In 1783, he was admitted to an asylum for nine months and, in 1784, Sayer filed papers to dissolve their business partnership. Bennett died in 1787.