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Near Flawless Example of the First Map of The United States In Original Slipcase

Lattre's map of the United States.appeared in June 1784, just two months after the United States gained official independence through the final ratification of the Treaty of Paris by the United States (February 1784) and Great Britain (April 1784). It was in fact the first map of the nation published after ratification, by which the independence of the United States gained official status . John Wallis's map, often cited as the first map of the new United States, was published in London before the final Treaty was signed by the negotiators and thus shows the United States and its boundaries only in their proposed form. Abel Buell's map of April 1784 was the first of the United States published in America. It appeared after the ratification of the Treaty by the United States, but before final ratification by Britain.

Ristow wrote that the map "is one of the most attractively designed and executed maps of the period and reflects the talent and skill of the artist-cartographer." The map was dedicated to Benjamin Franklin, a well-known figure at the Paris peace conference, and ambassador to France. Title and dedication are cleverly placed on the unfurled sail of a ship which makes for a memorable and handsome cartouche. ref: Cappon, The First French Map of the United States; Ristow, American Maps, p. 63."

The present example includes two side panels, providing a contemporary account of the American Revolution to the French Public, shortly after the conclusion of the war with Britain and treaty of peace in Paris.

Of additional note, one of the Medallions in the sail is the earliest appearance of the seal of the Order of Cincinnatus and the official seal of the United States with E Pluribus Unum as one of the earliest printed examples of the Official Seal of the United States.

In addition to being the first French map to recognize the newly formed United States, of particular note is the dedication to Benjamin Franklin, who is noted as Ambassador to France, delagate to the treaty negotiations and member of the Philosophical Society of Pennsylvania.

The map shows the region from Newfoundland to a northern Florida and west to beyond the Mississippi. Pennsylvania has an irregular western boundary and extends past Lake Erie in the north. The map provides a detailed treatment of the Indian Nations and River systems east of the Mississippi, along with a number of Forts and several French Missions in the Trans-Appalachian West. There is an inset of Florida (shown as an archipelago), with an ornate cartouche.

While originally thought to exist in only a single state, we have now identified the following 3 states, the first of which has a slightly different title, which includes a credit to Franklin as Ancien Président de Pensilvanie. This line was altered in the second state of the map to read anc. Présid. de la conventió de Pensilvanie, a reference to Franklin's role as president of the Pennsylvania constitutional convention of 1776, and I think a correction probably made at Franklin's request.

The map is known in the following states:

  • 1784 First State--lacking table of 13 colonies and including text panels
  • 1784 Second State--with table of colonies and text panels
  • 1791 circa-Delamarche acquires the plate and adds his imprint. Text panels removed and addtional states named, including Vermont and Washington DC.

The map survives in only a few examples and was of sufficient importance that it has been included in a facsimile edition published by the Donnelly Company in the Norman T. Leventhal Collection of the Boston Public Library. The example in the American Philosphical Society includes two text panels on the right and left of the map, which includes a description of the principal battles of the American Revolution.

Donald Heald offered a copy of the 1791 edition in 2011, in which he states that only the first state of the map included panels. We have encountered examples of boh the first and second states of the map with and without panels and believe that it is more likely that the map, which was published spearately, could have been purchased both with and without the panels.

Condition Description
Dissected and laid on linen, with original slip case, from the French Depot de la Marine.
Cappon, The First French Map of the United States; Ristow, American Maps p 63; McCorkle #784.10; Sellers & van Ee #750; Pritchard & Taliaferro #70.