Rare 18th Century English Chart of South Florida and the Caribbean
Extremely rare separately issued chart of South Florida, the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America, published by Sayer & Bennett.
The map provides a fine treatment of South Florida, the Gulf of Florida, the Bahamas, Virgin Islands and the rest of the Caribbean.
Philips' List of Maps of America in the Library of Congress shows this as a separately issued folding map (p. 1057). The chart also likely appeared in the first edition of Sayer & Bennett's chart book: The West India Islands: from Actual Surveys and Observations. In Seventeen Correct Maps. . . . This work is not to be confused with the West India Atlas. It was first issued circa 1775, with later recorded states of 1795 and 1798 (by Laurie & Whittle).
The first edition is apparently vary rare. We find no examples in any dealer catalogs or auction records.
We note only the examples in the John Carter Brown Library, the Library of Congress (Elihu Root Collection of United States Documents), and the Newberry Library (bound into the Neptune Occidental),
We note also a later edition bound in the collection of the Danish National Library, bound into a Pilot for the West Indies, which is dated 1789.
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.