Holme's Map of Philadelphia in Deluxe Contemporary Dutch Color
Extraordinary map of the area around Philadelphia, as surveyed by Thomas Holme at the request of William Penn.
Offered here in extraordinary original color, quite possibly the finest original color example in existence. The map normally appears uncolored or in a modest outline color and even the full original color example in the legendary Snyder sale was inferior to the color on the present example.
The present map is a single sheet version of Thomas Holme's important 6 sheet map of the region published in 1687 and incorporates an inset map of the city of Philadelphia, drawn from Holme's exceeding rare town plan Portraiture of the City of Philadelphia, issued in 1683, which is generally considered the earliest city plan of any city in the United States.
Thomas Holme's Map of Pennsylvania
Thomas Holme's original 6 sheet map from which this map is drawn has been called "the greatest of early American maps." It is without question the most extraordinary wall map of any British Colony published in the 17th Century and both a visual and cartographic masterpiece.
In 1681, William Penn was granted sole proprietorship to more than forty-five thousand square miles in a region that he named Pennsylvania. Through vigorous promotion more than a half-million acres were sold in the first year alone. Because each tract had to be laid out before it could be developed, Penn appointed Thomas Holme surveyor general of the colony in April 1682. Holme immediately began to survey the land and to lay out the future city of Philadelphia. A plan titled A Portraiture of the City of Philadelphia was published in 1683. Penn then pressured Holme to produce a general map of the colony complaining from London that "we want a map to the degree that I am ashamed here … all cry out, where is your map, what no map of the settlements!"
The completed manuscript was on its way to Penn in London by May 1687, and the finished map was advertised in January 1688. It illustrates the "improved", or settled, area of the province along the western bank of the Delaware River, a tract of approximately fifty-five miles in length and thirty-three miles in width. On a scale of one mile to one inch, it locates the holdings of 670 settlers, and was the only map of any English colony to give such a detailed account of settlement. Holme's 1683 plan of Philadelphia, the first published for any English American city, was included in reduced form as an inset in the upper right corner. The map's prolific size insured its rarity over time.
A reduced version was published by Philip Lea around 1690. The present map is the second state of the map, issued by George Willdey circa 1715.
The Holme map is rare on the market. The first edition last appeared in a dealer catalog in 2015 (Donald Heald- $62,500). Two examples of have appeared at auction in the past 15 years (Swann Galleries 2006 - $43,700 and Sothebys 2019 - $46,250).
The only example of the Willdey edition to appear on the market was offered at the Martin P. Snyder sale in 2008, selling for $36,000, with the following cataloging note:
Only four copies of both the first and second issues combined have appeared at auction in the last quarter century (unnamed consignor, Swann Galleries, 30 March 2006; George M. Pflaumer, Sotheby's New York, 3 June 1997; Howard E. Welsh, Sotheby's New York, 13 June 1991; unnamed consignor, Sotheby's New York, 22 May 1990). Of those, only the copy at Swann Galleries was a first issue, the remaining having the Willdey imprint.