THE MOST IMPORTANT EIGHTEENTH CENTURY MAP OF VIRGINIA

 

$40,000

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AUTHOR:

FRY, JOSHUA, AND PETER JEFFERSON

TITLE:

A Map of the most Inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole Province of Maryland... 1775. London: Published by Thomas Jeffreys Geographer to His Royal Highness

CONDITION:

Printed on four joined folio sheets measuring 30” x 48”. Some original outline color, minor signs of aging, overall very nice.

DATE:

[1755]

DESCRIPTION:

Fry and Jefferson’s map is most important map for Virginia of the eighteenth century. It was first of Virginia by Virginians; the first to accurately depict the Blue Ridge, and to lay down the colony’s road system. Many early plantations are located and identified by family name along the great rivers. The attractive cartouche which depicts a tobacco warehouse and wharf is one of the earliest printed images relating to the Virginia tobacco trade. The map remained the basis for all subsequent depictions of Virginia until the nineteenth century.

Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson were the logical choices to make the map of Virginia. Based on a directive from the London Board of Trade, they were selected to make the map by acting Virginia’s acting Governor Nathaniel Burwell, who described them as “the most able persons.” Fry, former professor of mathematics at the College of William and Mary, was the surveyor for Albemarle County. Peter Jefferson, the father of Thomas Jefferson, was his assistant. They were already responsible for some of the most important recent surveys in the colony, including the running of the back line of the Fairfax Grant in 1746, and the survey of the Virginia-North Carolina boundary in 1749.

The map was originally published in an unfinished state in 1753 on the eve of the French & Indian War. This heavily revised and updated version appeared in 1775, in Jefferys’
American Atlas, at the beginning of the American Revolution, when interest in the colonies and their geography was high among the British public. It was the standard cartographic reference for Virginia during the war for both the British and American forces. Thomas Jefferson wrote to General Horatio Gates in 1780, “we are endeavouring to get you a copy of Fry & Jefferson’s [map]; but they are now very scarce.” George Washington owned a copy, now in the collection of Yale University.

REFERENCES:

Taliaferro, “The Fry-Jefferson Map Re-Evaluated,” Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts, November 2013; Pritchard & Taliaferro, Degrees of Latitude, entries 30 and 64; Wooldridge, Mapping Virginia, Chapter 6 (pp. 107-121); Stephenson & McKee Virginia in Maps, Map II-21A-D, p. 83; Cumming, The Southeast in Early Maps, 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; Schecter, George Washington’s America. A Biography Through his Maps, Yale George Washington Atlas, Maps 33-34.

Inventory No. 8504

Cohen & Taliaferro

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