Rare early example of this fine 4-sheet map of America, which would become the most widely distributed wall map of North America during the last 3 decades of the 18th Century.
The map is one of the earliest obtainable English language wall maps of all of America. It was periodically updated during the later part of the 18th Century, first to include the information and boundaries established at the conclusion of the French and Indian War, and later, after the American Revolution and establishment of the United States.
The map provides a stark contrast between the known and unknown regions, with the eastern parts of North America quite well understood, whereas the mythical River of the West is still shown, seeking a continuous water course from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The map also includes an excellent treatment of South America at the end of the Spanish Colonial empire, based in part on the recently published Cruz Cano y Olmedilla map of South America ( Mapa Geográfico De America Meridional . . .).
The present example is an early state.
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.