Herman Moll's Greatest Atlas -- Extra-Illustrated Example
Herman Moll's impressive collection of large-format maps, including two world maps and six maps treating the Americas, here in beautiful copy with the maps exhibiting nice outline color. Herman Moll came to London in the 1680s from Holland, and became part of a circle of aggressively British personalities, including the writer Daniel Defoe, and the famous buccaneers William Dampier and Woodes Rogers. In fact Moll incorporated into his maps some of the geographical information gained through the buccaneers' voyage experiences.
This remarkable and important atlas, the first to include two-sheet maps folded into quarters, includes a number of justly famous maps, including Moll's so-called Beaver Map, the first large-scale map to show English developments in North America and the first to show the American postal routes. This map derived its moniker due to its detailed engraved vignette illustrating a beaver colony at work near Niagara Falls. The Beaver map is present here in its 4th state, c. 1731.
Moll's map was one of the most important illustrations of the ongoing dispute between France and Great Britain over boundaries separating their respective American colonies. Pritchard and Taliaferro note 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.
Susan Schulten elaborates on Moll's other North American map, also present in this atlas, and its role in the continuing cartographic playing out of French and British boundary disputes:
[De L'Isle's] map raised the stakes of the geopolitical struggle between Britain and France over control of an American interior... Herman Moll responded with a map of his own.... [He had] published a map that depicted the British dominions along the eastern seaboard as strategically positioned relative to the rest of the continent. Moll was thus particularly troubled by de L'Isle's 1718 map, which attempted to limit Britain's territorial sphere. He responded with the pointedly titled "New Map of the North Parts of America Claimed by France."
The very title of the map hints at Moll's sense of disbelief...His map dripped with sarcasm...In characterizing de L'Isle's map as propaganda, Moll aimed both to challenge French claims and to fortify British settlements beyond the seaboard - Susan Shulten, A History of America in 100 Maps, page 68.
In lieu of a title-page, the present atlas contains the publisher John Bowles's broadside advertisement for The World Described. Other copies of the atlas are recorded with a similar treatment (cf. for example OCLC No. 49408613). The detailed letterpress broadside is trimmed and tipped to the front pastedown endpaper. The advertisement lists thirty maps, all present in the atlas in hand, which also contains two additional maps not listed on the broadside, viz. the map of London and the Scheme of the Solar System.
The present example of Moll's The World Described includes the imprints of John Bowles, his brother Thomas Bowles, John King, and Phillip Overton. The presence of these names and the Beaver Map being in its fourth and penultimate state suggest a date of circa 1733 for the atlas as a whole.
In addition to the maps mentioned above, this atlas includes a number of other highly desirable maps, several with remarkably detailed and beautiful inset illustrations.
A complete list follows, with additional notes on particular maps.
1. A New And Correct Map of the World, Laid Down According to the Newest Discoveries, and From the Most Exact Observations, By Herman Moll.
Wagner, Northwest Coast, 513.
2. A New & Correct Map of the Whole World Shewing ye Situation of its Principal Parts... 1719.
California is an island, but different from the Briggs map in the upper part as a short Strait of Anian extends northeast to fifty degrees, where the outside coast extends ten degrees north of west while there is no extension of the eastern coast. It shows Lahontan's long river - Wagner, Northwest Coast, 512.
3. To Her most Sacred Majesty Carolina, Queen of Great Britain, France & Ireland. This Map of Europe.
4. To the Right Honourable William Lord Cowper, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. This Map of Asia.
5. A Map of the East-Indies and the adjacent Countries... To ye Directors of ye Honble. United East-India Company.
6. To the Right Honourable Charles Earl of Peterborow and Monmouth, &c. This Map of Africa.
7. To the Right Honourable John Lord Sommers Baron of Evesham in ye County of Worcester President of Her Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council &c. This Map of North America.
With a large engraved inset illustration: A view of a Stage & also of ye manner of Fishing for, Curing & Drying Cod at Newfoundland.
Wagner, Northwest Coast, 514.
8. A New and Exact Map of the Dominions of the King of Great Britain on ye Continent of North America. Containing Newfoundland, New Scotland, New England, New York, New Jersey, Pensilvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina.
The Beaver Map. The present example conforms to Pritchard and Taliaferro's 4th state, with the Carolina map inset divided into counties and with the imprint reading: Printed and Sold by Tho: Bowles next ye Chapter House in St. Paul's Church-yard, John Bowles at the Black Horse in Cornhill, and by I. King at ye Globe in ye Poultrey near Stocks Market.
In addition to the famous Beaver inset, this map also includes four inset maps.
Inset 1. [Map of the southeastern North America, including New France, Louisiana, Florida, and Carolina].
With caption: The Design of this Map is to shew the South Part of Carolina, and the East Part of Florida, possess'd since September 1713 by the French and called Louisiana; together with some of the principal Indian Settlement and the Number of the Fighting Men According to the account of Capt. T. Nearn and others.
Inset 2. Map of the Improved Part of Carolina with the Settlements &c.
Inset 3: A Map of the PRINCIPAL PART OF NORTH AMERICA.
Inset 4: A Draught of ye Town and Harbour of CHARLES-TOWN.
9. A New Map of the North Parts of America claimed by France under ye Names of Louisiana, Mississipi, Canada and New France with ye Adjoyning Territories of England and Spain.
10. A Map of the West-Indies or the Islands of America in the North Sea.
Inset: A draught of St. Augustine and its harbour.
11. To the Right Honourable, Charles Earl of Sunderland, and Baron Spencer of Wormleighton; One of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of States; &c. This Map of South America.
12. A New & Exact Map of the Coast, Countries and Islands within ye Limits of ye South Sea Company.
With three separate maps printed at the top of the sheet:
1. A Map of the Isle Chiloe, the Lake of Ancuna, with the Islands, &c. Done after the newest Spanish Draughts.
2. Part of Peru
3. A Map of ye Port of Baldivia with the Fortifications and Islands &c. Done after a New Spanish Draught.
And nine insets within the main map: A Chart from England to the River Aranoca &c.; The Port of Acapulco; The Gulf of Amapalla or Fonesca; The Gulf of Nicoya or Gulf of Salinas; the Gallapagos Islands; The Island of Juan Ferdinando; A Map of the Isthmus of Darien The Bay of Panama &c.; Peypses or Pepys I.; A map of ye Straights of Magellan &c.
An earlier version of this map was issued in a promotional publication for the South Sea Company: A View of the Coasts, Countries and Islands within the Limites of the South-Sea Company... (London, 1711).
The South Sea Company attempted to establish a British-controlled monopoly on trade with South America. It ultimately led to the South Sea Bubble financial crisis of 1720, when a trading frenzy and inevitable fall in share prices triggered a major economic melt down.
I cannot find just when this map was first issued, but it probably first appeared in Moll's The World Described... - Wagner, Northwest Coast, 498.
13. To His Most Serene and August Majesty Peter Alexovitz Absolute Lord of Russia &c. This Map of Moscovy, Poland, Little Tartary, And ye Black Sea &c.
14. A New Map of Denmark and Sweden.
15. A New Map of the Baltick &c. Shewing all the Dominions about it. With ye Great or Post Roads and Principal Cross-Roads.
16. A New Map of Great Britain.
17. The South Part of Great Britain, called, England and Wales.
18. The North Part of Great Britain Called Scotland.
19. A New Map of Ireland Divided into its Provinces, Counties and Baronies, wherein are distinguished the Bishopricks, Borroughs, Barracks, Bogs, Passes, Bridges, &c. with the Principal Roads, and the common Reputed Miles.
20. To His Grace John Duke of Marleborough, Prince of Mindelheim &c. This Map of Germany &c. is most Humbly Dedicated by H. Moll Geographer. A New Map of Germany, Hungary, Transilvania & the Suisse Cantons. 1712.
21. A New & Exact Map of the Electorate of Brunswick-Lunenburg and ye rest of ye Kings Dominions in Germany.
22. The Seat of the War on the Rhine, being a New Map of the Course of that River from Strasbourg to Bonn with the Adjacent Countries. By Monsr. G. de L'Isle
23. A New and Exact Map of the United Provinces, or Netherlands &c.
24. Les Provinces Des Pay-Bas Catholiques ou A Most Exact Map of Flanders or ye Austrian Netherlands &c.
25. A New and Exact Map of France.
26. A New and Exact Map of Spain & Portugal Divided into Kingdoms and Principalities &c.
27. A New Map of Italy Distinguishing All the Sovereignties in it... 1714.
28. A New Map of the Upper Part of Italy Containing ye Principality of Piemont, ye Dutchies of Savoy, Milan, Parma, Mantua, Modena, Tuscany...
29. The Turkish Empire in Europe, Asia and Africa.
30. An Historical Map of the Roman Empire and the neighbouring Barbarous Nations.
31. A Mapp Containing the Townes and Villages Gentlemens Houses Roads Rivers Woods and Other Remarks for 20 Miles Round London. 1730.
32. A Scheme of the Solar System with the Orbits of the Planets and Comets Belonging Thereto, Describ'd from Dr. Halley's accurate Table of Comets, Philosoph. Transact. No. 267. Founded on St. Isaac Newton's wonderful discoveries By Wm. Whiston, M.A.
This map illustrates the orbits of the comets known to Edmund Halley and Whiston at the beginning of the 18th Century, based upon Newton's model. Each comet is illustrated by its orbit with information about its modern appearances, distances from the sun, etc. A number of Newton's teachings are annotated within the printed image and additional information appears outside the solar hemisphere.
William Whiston was an English theologian, historian, and mathematician, who succeeded Isaac Newton as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. His A New Theory of the Earth from its Original to the Consummation of All Things (1696), articulated Whiston's belief that the global flood of Noah had been caused by a comet, a position which won him praise from Newton. Whiston and Halley were both advocates for the periodicity of comets, although Whiston also believed that comets were responsible for past catastrophes in earth's history.
The map was first prepared by Whiston in 1712, likely to illustrate his public lectures on Newton's astronomical teachings, and thereafter copied and modified for most of the 18th Century.
Complete examples of Moll's large atlas are scarce on the market; the last example we have seen sold for $63,000 at Christie's in April of 2022.
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.