The Earliest American Map to Show Post Roads.
First state of this detailed regional map of the Northeastern United States, from Moll's Atlas Minor, which is generally regarded as the earliest map to show the post roads in America.
The first state of the map included the earliest depiction of the post roads in America, with a detailed explanation of the operating postal routes in America. Postroads are marked with a double line and the cities they pass through are named; other detail is also extensive.
The note at the bottom right of this first state of the map describes how the post sets out every Wednesday night from Philadelphia, makes a few stops, and arrives in New York on Sunday. The post then continues onwards to Boston and beyond, with simultaneous southbound postal services being run. There are many local post offices and three major ones, in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.
Two states are noted. In the first state (1729), the note at the bottom right appears, but only a single route from Philadelphia to Boston and on to Piscataway is shown. In the second state, a road from New York to Albany and on toward Lake Ontario is shown, and the main route now extends west to Lancaster, before splitting into two routes headed further west.
This is a seminal antique map of the British Colonies in America.
Herman Moll (c. 1654-1732) was one of the most important London mapmakers in the first half of the eighteenth century. Moll was probably born in Bremen, Germany, around 1654. He moved to London to escape the Scanian Wars. His earliest work was as an engraver for Moses Pitt on the production of the English Atlas, a failed work which landed Pitt in debtor's prison. Moll also engraved for Sir Jonas Moore, Grenville Collins, John Adair, and the Seller & Price firm. He published his first original maps in the early 1680s and had set up his own shop by the 1690s.
Moll's work quickly helped him become a member of a group which congregated at Jonathan's Coffee House at Number 20 Exchange Alley, Cornhill, where speculators met to trade stock. Moll's circle included the scientist Robert Hooke, the archaeologist William Stuckley, the authors Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe, and the intellectually-gifted pirates William Dampier, Woodes Rogers and William Hacke. From these contacts, Moll gained a great deal of privileged information that was included in his maps.
Over the course of his career, he published dozens of geographies, atlases, and histories, not to mention numerous sheet maps. His most famous works are Atlas Geographus, a monthly magazine that ran from 1708 to 1717, and The World Described (1715-54). He also frequently made maps for books, including those of Dampier’s publications and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Moll died in 1732. It is likely that his plates passed to another contemporary, Thomas Bowles, after this death.