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Updated With An Early Appearance of the Name "United States" and French Fishing Rights in Western Newfoundland

Striking example of this monumental 4-sheet map of North America, perhaps the single most enduring wall map of North America during the British Colonial era.

If a single large scale map of North America could be selected to track the changes in British North America and later the United States in the second half of the 18th Century, the present map is far and away the best example.  First published by Bowen & Gibson in about 1755, the map tracks the changes from pre-French & Indian War British Colonial North America, through post-French & Indian War changes (1763), several pre-Revolutionary War editions (1772 and 1775), multiple Revolutionary War issues (1777-1779), the newly minted United States before and after finalizing the Versailles Peace Treaty (1783) and several later editions capturing geo-political changes through the end of the 18th Century (1786-1798).

Originally issued separately by Bowen & Gibson in 1755, this influential wall map o North America was periodically updated following the conclusion of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.  Beginning in 1775, the map was included in some of the most influential American Atlases of the era, including those issued by Jefferys, Faden and Sayer & Bennett.

Also beginning in the late 1770s, the map was updated to include surveys compiled by Governor George Pownall, including information from Evans' and other indigenous sources. Included on the map is an inset of Hudson's Bay and an inset based upon Fra. Eusebio Kino's explorations to the mouth of the Colorado River.

The map is packed with Indian placenames in the west, forts along the Mississippi and west of the Appalachians and full compliment of annotations on early roads, explorations and other geographically specific facts. The title cartouche has been strengthened from previous issues and features fine cross-hatching of the Indian figures and animals.

The title "United States" appears on the portion of North America allocated by the 1783 Treaty, while in the top right corner of the upper sheet is a four-line note about the coast of Labrador and Article III of the Treaty.

The map is known in at least 12 states between 1755 and 1794 circa.  The present example is Stevens & Tree 79(l).  This is the final state listed by Tooley, which is the only state to show the French fishing rights (in blue) on the western coastline of Newfoundland.  In the prior state (Stevens & Tree 79(k)), the imprint has been modified to "Laurie & Whittle, No. 53, Fleet Street, 12th May, 1794."

Stevens & Tree 49k.
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.