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The 1755 Edition of the Fry and Jefferson Map of Virginia.

A fine example of the extremely rare 1755 state of Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson's map of Virginia and Maryland, widely regarded as the most important and influential 18th-century map of Virginia and Maryland.

Originally prepared by Joshua Fry of William & Mary and Peter Jefferson (father of President Thomas Jefferson) at the request of Lord Halifax in 1751, the Fry-Jefferson was a monumental leap forward in the mapping of the region. It is the first map to accurately depict the Blue Ridge Mountains and the first to lay down the colonial road system of Virginia. Many plantations are located and include the family names of the Virginia plantation owners of the period. The cartouche, showing a tobacco warehouse and wharf, is one of the earliest printed images of the Virginia tobacco trade.

One of the first actions of Lord Halifax upon becoming president of the Board of Trade and Plantations in 1748, was to request information concerning activities in the Frontiers and of potential French encroachments on the British territorial claims. In 1750, the Board required that each colony conduct a comprehensive survey. The acting Governor of Virginia, Col. Lewis Burwell, commissioned Fry & Jefferson to prepare a map of the Virginia colony.

Joshua Fry, a mathematician at the College of William and Mary, and Peter Jefferson, a surveyor (father of Thomas Jefferson), had together previously drawn the boundaries of Lord Fairfax's lands in 1746 and surveyed the Virginia-North Carolina boundary in 1749. First issued in 1751, the map incorporates the original surveys of Fry & Jefferson with existing data. A major revision in 1755 incorporated important information about the western part of the colony from the journals of John Dalrymple and Christopher Gist, the latter of whom is credited in the upper left part of the map with having contributed to the revisions. It is the 1755 edition that forms the basis for the subsequent editions.


This is Taliaferro's 5th state (of 10) and Verner's 4th state (of 9); the longitude along the bottom border is 75° 19' to 82° 19' west of London, while the imprint line has not yet been changed to say "Printed for Robt. Sayer...", which would occur in 1768. There is some confusion about the longitude change in this state, as a few sources do not specify that it is the bottom border that reads this way, while the longitude at the top of the map extends to 74° 19'.


Generally speaking, Fry and Jefferson maps get much rarer as one travels further back in their publication history. The most common issue is State 7 (1775), as it appeared in Jefferys' American Atlas, which was prolifically published during the American Revolution. The final states of the map are quite rare, as well. Verner prepared a census (augmented by Taliaferro) listing the rarity as follows. State 1: Four known copies. State 2: None located. State 3: 1 copy (Virginia Historical, bequest of Paul Mellon). State 4: Four identified by Verner, plus others. State 5: Three identified by Verner; Taliaferro suggests there are others.

Condition Description
Engraved map on four sheets of laid paper joined as one.
Degrees of Latitude, 30; Stephenson & McKee Virginia in Maps, Map II-21A-D, p. 83; Cumming 281; Coolie Verner, "The Fry and Jefferson Map", Imago Mundi XXI, pp. 70-94; cf. On the Map, Figure 42; Papenfuse & Coale, pp. 34-36. Dumas Malone, Introduction to The Fry and Jefferson Map of Virginia and Maryland: Facsimiles of the 1754 and 1794 Printings (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1966). Henry Taliaferro, Fry and Jefferson Revisited, in the Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts: Stevens & Tree 87(d).