A New Map of the West India Isles, from the Latest Authorities


A New Map of the West India Isles, from the Latest Authorities


Measurements: 18.25 x 20.5 in (46.355 x 52.07 cm)  

Date: 1803

Condition: Excellent


An exquisite example of famed cartographer John Cary’s significant 1803 map detailing Florida, Central America, and the West Indies. Ranging from Texas (referred to as ‘Cenis’) eastward to the Carolinas and the Bahamas, the map then proceeds southward to include the totality of Central America and the northern portion of South America. Remarkable detailing encompasses the entire map, in particular Florida and the islands of the Caribbean. In the map’s North American component, Georgia is evidenced as extending westward to the Mississippi River, despite the advent in 1798 of the Mississippi Territory. The Apalachicola River is shown to divide Florida into two sections, east and west. The western section, purportedly part of the Louisiana Purchase, was claimed by Spain and held under its domain until 1812. The map enumerates many place-names along the Mississippi River, including Fort Bosalie, Davian’s Rocks, New Madrid, Old Fort, and Fort Francis. In what is now contemporary Texas, eight place-names appear, as well as Robert de La Salle’s 1685 Gulf Coast Settlement and the inland destination where he was killed two years later. Prepared by John Cary for his groundbreaking New Universal Atlas of 1808, the map is considered to be one of the most important representations of the West Indies published in the early 1800s.

Map taken from: New Universal Atlas of 1808

Cartographer: John Cary (1754-1835)

John Cary (1754-1835) was one of the premier cartographers of the first half of the 18th century, serving an apprenticeship as an engraver before setting up his own business in London. The noted English cartographic historian, Ronald Vere Tooley, has written that, “as an engraver, (Cary) was elegant and exact, with fine clear lettering and great delicacy of touch.” Cary’s career was established in 1776 with the publication of his New and Correct English Atlas. This influential atlas ushered in a new era in cartography, one in which accurate detailing replaced the 18th century emphasis on ornamentation. In an age that witnessed the rapid expansion of travel and commerce, such a change was imperative, and Cary’s skill and innovation, across a series of mapmaking endeavors, resulted in a redefinition of the nature of cartography; the publication of his New Universal Atlas in 1808 — which was reissued seven times though 1844 — set an example that was replicated by all those who followed. His work had a profound influence on John Pinkerton and John Thomson, the two major exponents of the Edinburgh School of Cartography, and Henry Tanner was known to have used Cary’s work as the organizing principle for his New American Atlas. Though Cary’s final atlas appeared posthumously in 1844, his cartographic style continued to take form in the work of his sons, as well as the work of other prominent cartographers such as G.F. Crutchley, James Wyld, and John Tallis.

Contemporary academic references cited relating to this map:

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