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
By: Herman Moll
Date: 1730 (published) London
Dimensions: 40 x 24.25 inches (101.5 x 61.5 cm)
An important and famous map among collectors and historians alike, Herman Molls map of the British Colonies, more commonly reffered to as "the Beaver Map," illustrates struggle between major European powers of Great Britain and France regarding the boundaries separating their respective colonies in the New World.
Examining the Map
The work is the first large-scale map to show English developments and postal routes in North America with all territory south of the St. Lawrence River and eastern Great Lakes is shown as British. The face of the map is covered with numerous notations relating to territorial claims, Indian tribes, the fur trade, and the condition of the land. The map extends from St. Augustine in Louisiana (present-day Florida) to James Bay in the north and New Found Land in the northeast. Inset maps include that of the French controlled Louisiana Territory, Carolina divided into provinces with settlements, the town and harbor of Charles-Town, and a map of North America showing the vast European territorial claims.
Why it's Called the Beaver Map
The most striking feature of the map which earns the map's nickname "the Beaver Map," is the vignette of Niagara Falls with a community of beavers at work in an organized manner similar to what one would expect from humans. Text below the image describes how the beavers make dams "in order to form a great lake in which they build their habitations," by felling large trees and and fortifying them with mortar, all with "wonderful dexterity." The source for the image and text is "according to French accounts."
Beaver pelts were a significant part of the highly lucrative fur trade in North America, and with a seemingly inexhaustible supply, the industry significantly contributed to European settlement in the northern colonies. Furthermore, the industrious nature of beavers symbolized the ideal that hard work would result in the control of land and creation of wealth.
The Iroquois; Hearty Friends of ye English
While the map provides several paragraphs of descriptive text, the one we chose to point spans the Maryland and Pennsylvania Colony, within the large swath of land recognizing the Iriquois. The text describes how "the Iroquois consist of four Cantons, Govern'd by so many Kings and all are hearty friends of ye English..." While there is truth to this claim, in actuality the Iroquois were masters of diplomacy and while the English saw them as "hearty friends," the French too saw the Iroquois as loyal friends through years of ongoing trade in furs. Positioned between the English colonies and French Canada, the Iroquois found their best position was to be seen as a vital ally to both competing powers.
Herman Moll was one of the most well-known cartographers in England of his generation. Sometime around 1680, Moll emigrated from the Netherlands to England, settling in London, where he established his own shop in 1689. His 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.
Condition: Map is in B condition, two sheets joined with original outline color. There are a few fold separations, some marginal chipping, a 2 inch tear at top right and a 10 inch tear a bottom left. All have been mended on the verso. Paper has darkened some with age.
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