Rare state of Sayer & Bennett's map of the British Colonies in North America--One of the earliest maps to name the United States.
Printed just 20 days after the signing of the preliminary peace treaty at Versailles, Sayer & Bennett's map is one of the earliest maps to name and depict the newly formed Republic.
The map shows the area from New Foundland in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the South, from the Atlantic seacoast to the Lake of the Woods in the west.
The title within the cartouche of the map was entirely erased and replace with the above title. Next to the cartouche it includes article III of the Treaty of Paris.
Originally issued by Thomas Jefferys, this is state 4 of the map, according to Stevens & Tree, the only edition with this title, pre-dating the addition of a flag atop the cartouche in 1794. First issued in 1755, the map was reissued from the same plate with various changes in 1768, 1775, 1783 (this issue) and 1794. A map with "a long life, with changes to geography, imprint and title" (Backus McCorckle).
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.