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1673 A New Description of Carolina by Order of the Lords Proprietors

1673 A New Description of Carolina by Order of the Lords Proprietors

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By: James Moxon / John Ogilby

Date: 1673 (published) London

Dimensions: 16.5 x 21.5 inches (42 x 54.5 cm)

A fine example of the important First Lords Proprietors Map of the English colony of Carolina; the first large scale map of the nascent colony, preceded only by three small and less detailed publications. Complete with new place-names and cartographic errors, this map would become a benchmark in the history of mapping the Carolinas as well as a promotional tool used by the Lord Proprietors in luring new colonists to their settlements. 

What Brought About the Map

In 1663, Charles II granted the rights for a Province of Carolina to eight of the nobles who assisted in his restoration to the throne three years prior. Though the first attempt to colonize the Carolinas had failed, by 1670 the seeds were firmly planted with the Charles Town settlement. That same year, John Ogilby was preparing to issue his illustrative volume, America, containing a history and description of the New World. This work was largely a direct translation of a book by his Dutch contemporary, Arnold Montanus, who is not mentioned at all, but nearly all the illustrations included originated from him. However, in order to make his publication more attractive to his intended English audience, Ogilby sought the latest new information on English possessions in America by adding new text and four new maps of Maryland, Jamaica, Barbados, and this one of Carolina.

As Carolina was still in its early stages of establishing settlements, some by very influential figures, Ogilby was keen to include information and a map of the colony. Thus, he approached Peter Colleton, the brother of one of the proprietors, who wrote to John Locke, secretary of another of the Proprietors, Lord Ashley, requesting a map he could include in his new book.

Mr. Ogilby who is printing a relation of the West Indies hath been often wth mee to gett a map of Carolina wherefore I humbly desire you to gett of my lord [Ashley] those mapps of Cape feare & Albermarlee the he hath & I will draw them into one wth that of port Royal & waite upon my lord for the nominations of the rivers, &c.

Thus, John Ogilby was able to attain a map, which included the very latest and most verified information on the new colony, which he then engraved by James Moxon and added to his new volume, America.

Examining the Map

The map is oriented to the west, with north to the right, a common practice for maps of this era as it was deemed most logical to present the land as it would appear when sailing from England. The map extends from Mosquito Bay, just south of St. Augustine (present-day Florida) to James Town along the north bank of the St. James River which constitutes the southern border of the colony of Virginia. The map provides coastal details, but also an impressive amount of information on the interior for its time. A inset surrounded by a vine shows the site of the Charles Town settlement. Two delightful cartouches featuring an English depiction of indigenous natives grace the corners not utilized by the map.

This map was much improved from the earlier, smaller maps of Carolina, based on sources available through the Lord Proprietors, and it added several new place-names, many of which honor those lords. Much of the information came from John Lederer, who made three trips to the interior of the colony in 1669-70, providing new topographical information on what was previously a cartographically barren region. While a considerable amount of this was an improvement on earlier maps, Lederer's information also confirmed the reality of a non-existent lake in Carolina, as well as introducing two new cartographic myths to the area. 

Cartographic Errors and Misconceptions of the Map

This mythical lake first appeared in a map by Jodocus Hondius in 1606, the result of his moving a Florida lake into the southern Appalachian Mountains. Lederer claimed to have visited this (non-existent) lake, thus reaffirming its existence by 'first-hand observation.' Lederer's two newly introduced errors were a marshy savanna along the foothills of the Piedmonts and a sandy desert within the middle of Carolina. Assuming that Lederer believed his own account, there is a plausible explanation for these two geographic misconceptions. First, the savanna was likely the result of Lederer seeing some marshy areas in the foothills, which were exaggerated with regards to their size. The "Arenosa desert" may reflect Lederer's experiences crossing the sandy pine barrens in July, though he again exaggerates in saying he traveled for twelve days without seeing a river. As for the lake, Lederer could have seen the Catawba in flood, but the closeness of his account to the legends printed on the maps predating his travels indicates that here he may have been lying. 

History of the Map's Publication

The new map of Carolina was not available when Ogilby first published America in 1671, so for the first editions of his book, he used an earlier map from Montanus, based on a map by Blaeu from about 1640. The new map, engraved by James Moxon, first appeared in the 1673 edition of America, resulting in this map being particularly rare. However, its depiction of Carolina soon became the standard cartographic work of the colony, which would be copied by Francis Lamb for a map in John Speed's 1676 Prospect of the Most famous Parts of the World. The map and the related text on the new colony, were used by the Lord Proprietors to promote their colony, so some copies of the map were likely sold seprately. It is interesting that though the map was surpassed in accuracy by Joel Gascoyne's map of 1682, that same year the Lord Proprietor's secretary, Samuel Wilson seems to have included Ogilby's map in some of the copies of his promotional tract, An Account of the Province of Carolina.  

Condition: This map is in B+ condition with superb hand coloring on watermarked paper. Map presents full margins on all sides with a small and older tear repair at bottom center. There is also a small hole in the ocean created by a spot of rust that has been closed on the verso. 

Inventory #12266

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