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Rare John Cary engraved edition of Thomas Jefferys' map of the siege of Quebec of 1759, widely considered to be the most important printed military map in Canadian history.

This fascinating map embraces the environs of Quebec City and was one of the first maps to be printed in London following news of the British victory on the Plains of Abraham in 1759, the fateful showdown between the armies of General James Wolfe and the Marquis de Montcalm. It shows the city and topography in carefully rendered detail. All of the main scenes of action surrounding the British siege are shown, including the abortive attack on Beauport, the British Headquarters at Levis and the site of the decisive Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Interestingly, each vessel of the British fleet, under the overall command of Admiral Saunders, appears in pictographic form, with the names of each ship labeled. The map was considered to be by far the most authoritative geographical depiction of this momentous series of events and was used as the source map for many other publications printed in London.

To lend perspective, the map includes a detail inset of the decisive battle itself, A view of the action gained by the English Sepr. 13, 1759 near Quebec, brought from thence by an officer of distinction and another inset map entitled Part of the upper river of St. Laurence, showing the region located upriver of that depicted on the main map.

This is one of the earliest maps engraved by John Cary.

John Cary Biography

John Cary (1755-1835) was a British cartographer and publisher best known for his clean engraving and distinct style which influenced the entire map industry. Born in Wiltshire, John was apprenticed to an engraver in London. He started his own business by 1782 and moved to several premises before settling at 86 St James’s Street in 1820.

Cary had several significant collaborations during his career. John Wallis and Cary diversified Cary’s business to include broader publishing projects. Brother William and John made globes together, while brother Francis participated in the company’s engraving work. Finally, geologist William Smith and Cary developed and sold geological maps, some of the first of their kind. The pair also produced a notable series of county maps starting in 1819. Cary’s atlases, of English counties and the world, were the standard texts of the early nineteenth century. He was appointed surveyor of roads to the General Post Office in 1794, which led to the New Itinerary, first published in 1798.  

John trained his son, George, in engraving and George and his other son, John Jr., took over the business in 1821. It was then known as G. and J. Cary and continued in trade until 1850. The firm’s materials were then acquired by George Frederick Cruchley and then Gall and Inglis. By the time John died in 1835, Cary was the authoritative name in private map publishing and his business was a leader in the field throughout the first half of the nineteenth century.