The First State of Herman Moll's Iconic "Beaver" Map
Fine example of Moll's seminal map of the British Colonies in America, the first large-scale map to show English developments in North America and the first to show the American postal routes.
Moll's map was the first and one of the most important illustrations of the ongoing dispute between France and Great Britain over boundaries separating their respective American colonies. Pritchard notes that "The map was the primary exponent of the British position during the period immediately following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713." All territory south of the St. Lawrence River and eastern Great Lakes is shown as British. Numerous notations relating to territorial claims, Indian tribes, the fur trade, and the condition of the land cover the face of the map. This map shows the early eighteenth-century postal routes in the British colonies and is frequently called the first American postal map.
Moll's "Beaver Map" is one of the most accurate of the period. It is notable for being among the first and most important cartographic documents relating to Anglo-French disputes over the boundaries separating their respective American colonies. Even the insets are of great importance, most notably Indian Agent Thomas Nairne's important and early map of South Carolina, along with a map showing the English, French and Indian settlements in the Carolinas and a plan of Charleston Harbor.
The most striking feature of Moll's map is the vignette showing Niagara Falls with beavers at work. The view of Niagara Falls, without the beavers, was first published in Utrecht in 1697, as part of Louis Hennepin's Nouvelle decouverte d'un tres grand Pays Situe dans l'Amerique. In 1713, Nicholas de Fer, cartographer to the French King, copied Hennepin's view and added the famous beavers on his "Carte de La Mer du Sud & de La Mer du Nord." Beaver pelts were a significant part of a highly successful American fur trade, an industry that was used to promote settlement in America. The industrious nature of beavers, moreover, symbolized the notion that control of the land, and the wealth created therefrom, was brought about by hard work.
Moll was one of the most well-known cartographers in England of his generation. Moll emigrated from the Netherlands to England around 1680, settling in London, where he established his own shop in 1689. Moll's style grew increasingly distinctive as his career progressed, and his maps remain noted for their elaborate design and clarity of lettering. He was also known for including numerous legends on his maps that give historical information about the geography, inhabitants and general features of the areas shown.
Ashley Baynton Williams notes 9 states of the map, NOT including two examples of an Irish edition, published by Grierson.
- 1715: Sold by H. Moll over against Dever[e]ux Court without Temple Bar. Carolina inset does not show parishes. Louisiana inset is undated and reads "Cherecies 3000 men". Nova Scotia narrowing to a narrow point at the southern tip. Casco Bay is shown in the sea off the mouth of the Saco River and far fewer place names along the coast of "Fundi Bay" to the north.
- 1717 ca: Same as above, but with the entire coastline of "Fundi Bay" and Nova Scotia reconfigured based upon the manuscript map of Nathaniel Blackmore. Anapolis Royal is now on a massive inland bay with a very narrow outlet. The name Casco Bay now appears on land and the entire northern coast of "Fundi Bay" is reconfigured, with over a dozen new place names.
- 1717? ca: Phantom state referenced by Stevens & Tree -- no copies located
- 1726 ca: Sold by H. Moll and I. King at yet Globe in ye Poultry near Stock's Market. (John King imprint added)
- 1730 ca: Inset of Carolina divided into parishes. Inset of southeast includes reference to "Cehercies 3000 Men, one of ye Kings.... added. No Georgia.
- 1730 ca: Phantom state -- Moll's name and address deleted and only King's name present.
- 1733 ca: Moll's name removed. Printed and Sold by Thos. Bowles . . . John Bowles . . . and I King. Carolina inset now divided into counties. Inset in Louisiana is modified to include the date of 1755: Printed and sold by Thos. Bowles . . . John Bowles and son . . . and by I. King. (Georgia not yet named. Bowles' imprints added).
- 1735 ca: As above. Georgia added.
- 1753 ca As above. Thos. Bowles . . . John Bowles and Son and John King.
The first state is very rare on the market. This is the first example we have ever offered for sale.
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.