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Large 18th Century English wall map of the Americas

Nice example of this fine 4-sheet map of America, based upon the most recent information and with extensive annotations.

The present state of the map is revised according to "Preliminaries of Peace" signed in Versailles on January 20, 1783, England's first formal recognition of the independence of the United States. Peace negotiations between British and American diplomats began in earnest in the fall of 1782. The preliminary articles of peace were signed by British and American representatives in late January 1783, but news of the event did not reach American shores until March 1783.

This is the 1794 edition, with the change in date reflecting the inheritance of Robert Sayer's firm by his employees Laurie and Whittle.

Sayer & Bennett's 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 the 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 . . .).

Laurie & Whittle Biography

Robert Laurie (ca. 1755-1836) and James Whittle (1757-1818) formed their Fleet Street, London-based firm upon the 1794 death of their employer Robert Sayer, himself one of the dominant print and mapmakers of the last half of the 18th century.

Laurie & Whittle started managing Sayer's business as early as 1787. They took over all managerial duties when Sayer's health flagged in 1792, and they changed the imprint in 1794 upon his death. Sayer left the two a 21-year lease on the shop (at £100 a year) and on Sayer's Bolt Court premises, as well as an option to acquire stock and equipment at a preferential price of £5,000 payable over three years.

Robert Laurie retired from the firm in 1812, and his role was assumed by his son, Richard Holmes Laurie (1777-1858). The younger Laurie worked with James Whittle until the latter died in 1818. After R. H. Laurie died in 1858, Alexander George Findlay, FRGS (1812-1875) purchased the firm from his daughters. The firm continues today under another name, specializing in yachting charts.

Laurie & Whittle were prolific print and map publishers, and throughout their careers, they produced numerous very important and rare works. They carried on Robert Sayer's atlas business and were responsible for editions of The Complete East-India Pilot and The American Atlas.