Fine example of William Faden's important early chart of the Delaware River, prepared on the eve of the American Revolutionary War.
Fadens chart is the earliest obtainable derivative of Joshua Fisher's virtually unobtainable map, which has been referred to as the "most important Philadelphia-vicinity plan" -- Snyder.
In 1756, Joshua Fisher published in Philadelphia his Chart of Delaware Bay from the Sea-Coast to Reedy-Island. The chart, published during the French & Indian War, was immediately suppressed by the Assembly, fearing that its falling into enemy hands would make Philadelphia a target of the French navy. Before being ordered to stop selling the map, Fisher had in fact distributed a few copies, writing to Richard Peters in March 1756, "some few have been delivered, before notice, as also some few sent to England." Apparently, one of the latter (or perhaps an equally rare Philadelphia second edition of circa 1775) would eventually find its way to William Faden, who would re-engrave the map and issue it in March 1776 on the eve of the Revolution.
Fisher's chart shows the lower part of the bay and was intended to be used as a navigational aid for ships sailing toward Philadelphia. In 1775, Fisher produced an expanded chart that showed the bay and the Delaware River to just beyond Philadelphia. This was the most important map of the bay and river in the 18th century.
The map is oriented to the west so that Philadelphia lies at the far right, and Cape Henlopen at the far left. Navigational information is copious in the bay, and the main shipping lane is indicated to Philadelphia, with depths indicated along it. A list of Pilots and Masters of Vessels attesting to the accuracy of the chart are included.
Faden's edition of the map is earliest of the full size English editions of the chart, the Philadelphia edition being unobtainable to most collectors. Later editions would be issued by Dury and Sayer & Bennett.
William Faden (1749-1836) was a prominent London mapmaker and publisher. He worked in close partnership with the prolific Thomas Jeffreys from 1773 to 1776. In 1783, Faden assumed ownership of the Jeffreys firm and was named Geographer to the King in the same year. Faden specialized in depictions of North America and also commanded a large stock of British county maps, which made him attractive as a partner to the Ordnance Survey; he published the first Ordnance map in 1801. The Admiralty also admired his work and acquired some of his plates which were re-issued as official naval charts. After retiring in 1823 the lucrative business passed to James Wyld, a former apprentice.