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New Zealand Before Captain Cook -- Rare Early Edition -- Previously Owned by the Duke of York

The Duke of York's Copy of the rare first state of Sheet 2 of Braddock Mead's seminal map of the Pacific Ocean, published in London by Thomas Jefferys.

In 1899, Henry Stevens noted that the first state of the map was apparently intended to be sold in separate sheets, noting that it is "very rarely complete, as the 6 charts has a complete border and title so that they were evidently sold separately as required."  

The map focuses on the discoveries and tracks of important explorers in the South Pacific, including:

  • Tasman 1643
  • Schouten and Le Maire1616
  • Mendana 1567 and 1595
  • Magellan 1520
  • Quiros 15605

 The map is often considered to be one of the most interesting early maps of the region for its large depiction of New Zealand based entirely on Tasman.

The map represents the blank template upon which James Cook would completely re-write the geographical knowledge of the region.  A second state of the map, published in 1775, replaces virtually the entirety of the map with newly discovered information. 

Thomas Jefferys became geographer to the Prince of Wales in 1746 and geographer to the King in 1760. He published a remarkable number of maps and charts, many of the North American continent.

The genius behind Jefferys in his shop was a brilliant man who at this time went by the alias of John Green. He made a great six-sheet map of North and South America (1753), concerning which he said, 'The English charts of America being for the general very inaccurate, I came to a resolution to publish some new ones for the use of British navigators.'

In addition to his extensive cartographic abilities, Green's personal history also stands out from amongst the biographies of other 18th-century British map makers. John Green was born Braddock Mead in Ireland before 1688, married in Dublin in 1715 and around 1717 moved to London. He was imprisoned in 1728 for trying to defraud an Irish heiress. He also worked with Chambers on his Universal Dictionary. 

After he got out of jail, he took the name of Green, and subsequently worked for Cave, Astley, and Jefferys. Mead 'had a number of marked characteristics as a cartographer ... One was his ability to collect, to analyze the value of, and to use a wide variety of sources; these he acknowledged scrupulously on the maps he designed and even more fully in accompanying remarks. Another outstanding characteristic was his intelligent compilation and careful evaluation of reports on latitudes and longitudes used in the construction of his maps, which he also entered in tables on the face of the maps ...

Mead's contributions to cartography stand out ... At a time when the quality and the ethics of map production were at a low ebb in England, he vigorously urged and practiced the highest standards; in the making of maps and navigational charts he was in advance of his time. For this he deserves due credit." (Cumming).'


Complete sets of the six maps are rare. In 1991, the Dupont set sold for $12,000 hammer; in 2007, the Frank Streeter set sold for $60,000. A separately-issued pamphlet which was intended to accompany the map is seldom found together with the map. Lada-Mocarski quotes an 1899 Henry Stevens catalogue concerning the map: "We have never before met with the Remarks and Chart together. The latter is very rarely complete, as the 6 charts has a complete border and title so that they were evidently sold separately as required."  

While later states of the map appeared in Jeffery's Atlases, commencing in about 1775, this first state is exceptionally rare.


The present example includes the bookplate of the Duke of York. The map was apparently acquired by the Duke of York and bound into a large composite atlas, as noted by the number below the Duke of York's bookplate found on the upper left verso of the map (illustrated), bearing the motto of the Chivalric English Order of the Garter, "Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense" and the initials D.Y., along with "Vol. 68, No. 12."  

Condition Description
Minor soiling at centerfold
Thomas Jefferys Biography

Thomas Jefferys (ca. 1719-1771) was a prolific map publisher, engraver, and cartographer based in London. His father was a cutler, but Jefferys was apprenticed to Emanuel Bowen, a prominent mapmaker and engraver. He was made free of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in 1744, although two earlier maps bearing his name have been identified. 

Jefferys had several collaborators and partners throughout his career. His first atlas, The Small English Atlas, was published with Thomas Kitchin in 1748-9. Later, he worked with Robert Sayer on A General Topography of North America (1768); Sayer also published posthumous collections with Jefferys' contributions including The American Atlas, The North-American Pilot, and The West-India Atlas

Jefferys was the Geographer to Frederick Prince of Wales and, from 1760, to King George III. Thanks especially to opportunities offered by the Seven Years' War, he is best known today for his maps of North America, and for his central place in the map trade—he not only sold maps commercially, but also imported the latest materials and had ties to several government bodies for whom he produced materials.

Upon his death in 1771, his workshop passed to his partner, William Faden, and his son, Thomas Jr. However, Jefferys had gone bankrupt in 1766 and some of his plates were bought by Robert Sayer (see above). Sayer, who had partnered in the past with Philip Overton (d. 1751), specialized in (re)publishing maps. In 1770, he partnered with John Bennett and many Jefferys maps were republished by the duo.