Sign In

Forgot Password Create Account
Description

Extemely rare George Grierson map of North America, copied from Herman Moll's 2-sheet map of North America, published ca 1730 in Dublin.

Grierson's map of North America is one of only a few large format maps of America published in Dublin during the Colonial period. While at first appearance, Grierson's map of North America appears to be from the same pair of copper plates as was used for Moll's map of the same title, even the most cursory examination of the maps quickly reveals that Grierson's map comes from a new plate. A few examples of the differences include: (1) different dedication cartouche above the title, and (2) the lack of the large village seen at the top left. A close inspection of the two maps shows that while Grierson was clearly trying to copy the Moll map, there are many other subtle differences.

Grierson's map is of the utmost rarity, this being the first example of the map we have ever seen on the market. As described below, Grierson is known to have primarily relied upon re-engraving maps published by Herman Moll, a curious irony, given that in this period, the English map makers were still actively coping many maps originally published in Amsterdam and Paris. The lack of understanding of the uniqueness and rarity of Grierson's work is perhaps best illustrated by the recent auction catalog entry for this example of the map in December 2009.

As noted before, this is an entirely different engraving. For example, in cataloguing this map in the Lowery Collection, Philip Lee Phillips also did not identify the difference in the two maps, also believing the map to have been from the plate as the Herman Moll editions of the map:

The only detail in which this impression differs from the one described in title 303 [Moll Map] is the cartouche over the title "To Ambrose Philips Esqr Register to the Prerogative court this map is most humbly Dedicated by yor. humble servt. G. Grierson."

In The Cartographer and the Literati - Herman Moll and his Intellectual Circle' Edwin Mellen Press, 1997, Dennis Reinhartz notes that [t]wo editions of [Moll's Large Atlas] The World Described... were done by the Dublin publisher George Grierson... all of the maps in the Irish editions were completely re-engraved, even to the point of understandably having been rededicated to contemporary Irish notables. The Grierson atlas had new and/or changed cartouches, dedications, details, and comments. It also showed obvious erasers and additions, and some of the maps were updated.' While Reinhartz has identified evidence of "2 editions of . . . The World Described. . .," Ashley Baynton-Williams, one of the foremost authority on maps published in the British Isles, reports that he is not aware of the existence of a single example of a complete Grierson edition of the The World Described, in any public or private collection. Mr. Baynton Williams did identify that the Grierson/Moll edition of the map offered here is known in 2 states, one with the dedication cartouche above the title cartouche and one without. Mr. Baynton-Williams reports that while he believes that the edition with dedication cartouche pre-dates the edition without it, there is no definitive evidence to suggest that the reverse is true. He also reports that Henry Stevens wrote a lengthy unpublished discertation on The World Described..., which included a discussion of the differences between the Grierson and Moll maps, but unfortunately Stevens' work is not well known on this topic.

Herman Moll's map was originally published in 1718, following the publication of Delisle's 1718 map of the Mississippi Valley. Although Moll appears at first to copy Delisle's 1718 Carte de la Louisiane et cours du Mississipi . . ., Moll actually enlarges Delisle and attacks the veracity of the French claims in America as reflected in Delisle's map. As noted by Cumming:

Moll calls upon the English noblemen, gentlemen, and merchants interested in Carolina to note the 'Incroachments' of the French map on their 'Properties' and on the land of their Indian allies. The map presents details of the Southeast found in no other printed map. The chief source of this information is a large, unsigned, undated manuscript map in the Public Record Office, from which Moll took much information on trading paths, Indian tribes, French, Spanish, and English forts and settlements, rivers, and other topographical data."

In The Mapping of the American Southwest, Reinhart notes

Moll's mapping of Texas and northern Mexico is both informative and appealing. He was best at coastal geography, depicting with some accuracy the coastal features, barrier islands (e.g., Padre Island), and identified rivers emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The rivers often continue deep into the interior, where there is less detail, but Moll does indicate various Indian tribes.... But most intriguing are Moll's notations. For example, he mentions several times the Spanish cattle gone wildthe famous Texas longhorns of later yearsby noting 'Country full of Beeves' or 'This Country has vast and Beautiful Plains, all level and full of Greens, which afford Pasture to an infinite number of Beeves and other Creatures' in East Texas near the 'R. Salado.' Nearby also is noted, 'Many Nations [of Indians] on ye heads of this Branches [of several rivers] who use Horses and Trade with the French and Spaniards.'

Moll voraciously defends the English claim to the territory east of the Mississippi and gives back part of Florida to Spain; in the Advertisement text, Moll states: All within the Blew Colour of this Map, shows what is Claim'd by France under the Names of Louisiana, Mississipi &c. According to a French Map published at Paris with the French King's Privelege. The Yellow Colour what they allow ye English. The Red, Spain....

The Grierson edition was likely issued separately and also bound into atlases, although there are no complete examples of Grierson's copy of Moll's large atlas identified in OCLC or otherwise known to have survived.

George Grierson: Pioneering Irish Publisher

George Grierson (c.1678 - 1753) was one of the most important publishers, editors and mapmakers in 18th Century Ireland. Born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, he immigrated to Ireland as a young man and in 1703 founded a printing house in Dublin at "The Sign of the Two Bibles" in Essex Street.

Dublin was then one of the most important cities in the British Empire, being a bustling port and a financial and services center. However, it had a relatively underdeveloped publishing sector. Up the this point, printing ha been hampered by ongoing political instability throughout the 17th Century, a relatively strict regime of official censorship and the overwhelming market dominance of London printers. Especially with respect to cartographic printing, Dublin's footprint was miniscule, with even most surveys of Ireland being printed in England. Grierson boldly stepped into the void and more than any other figure transformed Dublin into major printing hub.

Much misinformation has been written about Grierson. Indeed, from reading much of the material written in catalogs and an the internet, one gains the erroneous impression that he was an intellectual property "pirate" and some sort of disreputable fly-by-night journeyman printer. In reality, he was the leading publisher in Ireland a highly respected member of the Dublin upper sets, as well as innovative and risk-taking entrepreneur. While he printed works originated by others, he always did this within copyright laws, and always with attribution. In this sense, he was no different than any mapmaker who issued their own edition of a map previously issued (a common and well accepted norm).

Grierson started out printing Bibles and other religious texts, but eventually moved into printing classics and literature. He produced important editions of Milton's Paradise Lost and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. His series of affordable pocket-sized books, Grierson's Classics, were bestsellers of the era.

At one point in the 1720s, he hired Constantia Crawley (1705-32), a young and exceptionally brilliant classical scholar and poet. They were married in 1727, and the charismatic Constantia did much to improve the public reception of the hardworking, but comparatively taciturn Scotsman. Following Constantia's untimely death, Grierson solidified his dominance of Irish publishing upon marrying Jane Blow, the daughter of James Blow, Belfast's leading printer.

In 1729, Grierson was appointed to become the "King's Printer" for Ireland, a highly lucrative and honorific post, in which capacity he was responsible for printing all parliamentary and government papers.

His first major foray into cartography was his publication of the first Irish edition of Sir William Petty's atlas of Ireland (1732), originally issued in London in 1685.

Following the death of leading London cartographer Herman Moll (1654-1732), Grierson set about producing Irish editions of Moll's maps which were no longer under copyright. Many of these maps (such as the present map) were exceedingly large and preparing the copper-plates was a major technical undertaking never before attempted in Ireland. This explains why some of Grierson's editions may appear to be somewhat crude in style compared to the London editions. Far from being due to carelessness, these imperfections are due to the growing-pains of attempting something bold and ambitious in a new setting. While his editions of Moll's maps were likely also issued separately, evidence suggests that Grierson issued complete editions of Moll's atlas, The World Described, although no complete example is known to survive.

Grierson followed this up with his own edition of Mount & Page's sea atlas, The English Pilot (1749), being the first sea atlas printed in Ireland.

George Grierson died in 1753, but his printing business was continued by his family for some generations. He succeeded in greatly expanding the ambitions and technical capabilities of the printing industry in Ireland, which in turn assisted the flourishing of Irish writers and artists in the decades to come.

Condition Description
Restored along folds.
Reference
McLaughlin, California as an Island 197; Leighly 180; Cummming, p.43-44; Reinhartz, "Herman Moll, Geographer: An Early Eighteenth-Century European View of the American Southwest," pp. 32-33 in Reinhartz & Colley (eds.),
George Grierson Biography

George Grierson (c.1678 - 1753) was one of the most important publishers, editors and mapmakers in 18th Century Ireland. Born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, he immigrated to Ireland as a young man and in 1703 founded a printing house in Dublin at "The Sign of the Two Bibles" on Essex Street.

Dublin was then one of the most important cities in the British Empire, being a bustling port and a financial and services center. However, it had a relatively underdeveloped publishing sector. Up to this point, printing had been hampered by ongoing political instability throughout the 17th Century, with a relatively strict regime of official censorship and the overwhelming market dominance of London printers. Especially with respect to cartographic printing, Dublin's footprint was minuscule, with even most surveys of Ireland being printed in England. Grierson boldly stepped into the void and more than any other figure transformed Dublin into a major printing hub.

Much misinformation has been written about Grierson. Indeed, from reading much of the material written in catalogs and on the internet, one gains the erroneous impression that he was an intellectual property "pirate" and some sort of disreputable fly-by-night journeyman printer. In reality, he was the leading publisher in Ireland, a highly respected member of the Dublin upper sets, as well as innovative and a risk-taking entrepreneur. While he printed works originated by others, he always did this within copyright laws and always with attribution. In this sense, he was no different than any mapmaker who issued their own edition of a map previously issued (a common and well-accepted norm).

Grierson started out printing Bibles and other religious texts but eventually moved into printing classics and literature. He produced important editions of Milton's Paradise Lost and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. His series of affordable pocket-sized books, Grierson's Classics, were bestsellers of the era.

At one point in the 1720s, he hired Constantia Crawley (1705-32), a young and exceptionally brilliant classical scholar and poet. They were married in 1727 and the charismatic Constantia did much to improve the public reception of the hardworking but comparatively taciturn Scotsman. Following Constantia's untimely death, Grierson solidified his dominance of Irish publishing upon marrying Jane Blow, the daughter of James Blow, Belfast's leading printer.

In 1729, Grierson was appointed to become the "King's Printer" for Ireland, a highly lucrative and honorific post, in which capacity he was responsible for printing all parliamentary and government papers.

His first major foray into cartography was his publication of the first Irish edition of Sir William Petty's atlas of Ireland (1732), originally issued in London in 1685.

Following the death of Herman Moll, in 1732, Grierson set about producing Irish editions of Moll's maps which were no longer under copyright.

As noted by Dennis Reinhartz in The Cartographer and the Literati - Herman Moll and his Intellectual Circle:

"…two editions of [Moll's Large Atlas] The World Described... were done by the Dublin publisher George Grierson... all of the maps in the Irish editions were completely re-engraved, even to the point of understandably having been rededicated to contemporary Irish notables. The Grierson atlas had new and/or changed cartouches, dedications, details, and comments. It also showed obvious erasers and additions, and some of the maps were updated."

Many of these maps (such as the present map) were exceedingly large and preparing the copper-plates was a major technical undertaking never before attempted in Ireland. This explains why some of Grierson's editions may appear to be somewhat crude in style compared to the London editions. Far from being due to carelessness, these imperfections are due to the growing-pains of attempting something bold and ambitious in a new setting.

While his editions of Moll's maps were likely also issued separately, Grierson issued complete editions of Moll's atlas, The World Described. Ashley Baynton-Williams, the foremost authority on maps published in the British Isles, reports that only two examples of the Grierson edition of The World Described are recorded. One example is to be found in the collections of the Royal Geographic Society (London) and the other at the Library of Trinity College (Dublin), although it is not known if these atlases are complete.

Grierson followed this up with his own edition of Mount & Page's sea atlas, The English Pilot (1749), being the first sea atlas printed in Ireland.

Grierson succeeded in greatly expanding the ambitions and technical capabilities of the printing industry in Ireland, which in turn assisted the flourishing of Irish writers and artists in the decades to come. George Grierson died in 1753 and was succeeded in the business by his son Boulter Grierson, who notably reissued his father's edition of The English Pilot in 1767. The Grierson firm continued to operate for the next three generations.