Fine uncolored example of Robert Sayer's map of The Turks Islands from The West-India Atlas.
The map features the islands "Grand Turk" (now Grand Turk, home to Cockburn Town), "Salt Key" (Salt Cay, home to Balfour Town), and "Sand Key" (Big Sand Cay). The map would also be issued by Laurie & Whittle after Sayer's death in 1794.
Sayer's map is one of the earliest separately issued maps of the islands and the earliest obtainable large format map to focus on the region.
In describing the West India Atlas, Rumsey notes:
This is a superb atlas of the West Indies and a companion atlas to Jeffery's American Atlas also first issued in 1775. The latest date on the charts in this copy is 1788 (The Cape Verd Islands). . . . Jefferys died in 1771; Sayer and Bennet acquired his materials in preparation for this atlas, and published the atlas posthumously under his name (as they did with the American Atlas) in 1775. The heart of this atlas and the most detailed part is the sixteen sheet large chart and index sheet of the whole of the West Indies. The rest of the atlas consists of charts of the Atlantic Islands and the British Channel, as well as individual maps and charts of seventeen islands in the West Indies. . . . Phillips shows issues of 1775, 1781, 1787, 1794, 1796, 1807, and 1818. With the 1794 and later editions, 20 maps are added of various additional islands. Sayer and Bennet also published in 1775 a smaller version of this atlas called "The West India Islands: From Actual Survey and Observations..." that consisted of the same text, a general chart of the Islands, and the same sixteen or seventeen (depending on the edition) charts of the islands that appear in the larger version (P3942). Finally, Jefferys himself published in 1762 "A Description of the Spanish Islands and Settlements on the Coast of the West Indies" which was issued in quarto, with a general chart and 32 maps and plans of harbors and towns . . .
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.