MITCHELL, John (1711-1768) A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America…1755

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MITCHELL, John (1711-1768)

A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America…

Copperplate engraving with original hand color

London, 1755 (Third edition, first impression)

In 24 segments and mounted on linen, 53 x 77 inch total sheet




“Undoubtedly the most important map in American history…” according to the past Director of the Library of Congress Map Division. It was an important tool for rulers, diplomats and soldiers from its first publication in 1755 until well into the 19th century. It was also a map that influenced western migration for generations.  A superb example with full original color.

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The Mitchell map of North America was one of the most accurate of its day, fusing up-to-date information of both British and French sources with the mapmaker’s own research in the Lake Ontario and Lake Erie areas. It was at the request of Lord Halifax and the Board of Trade that he made the famous map, one of the period’s outstanding cartographic achievements. Considered by many to be the most important map in American history, Mitchell’s map was the one upon which the boundaries of the new United States first appeared. The year 1755, upon the eve of the French and Indian war, was "the year of the great maps," and one scholar writes that "the greatest of these is unquestionably" the Mitchell map. The treaty of 1783 was based on Mitchell’s map, as was the border between the United States and Canada.

An American physician, chemist, biologist, and botanist of considerable note, Mitchell emigrated to England in 1746. 21 editions of his enormously influential map followed over the next 25 years, and it was consulted by subsequent cartographers for decades, helping also to determine territorial disputes into the 20th century. Mitchell relied heavily on maps of New France by prominent French cartographers Jean-Jacques Bellin and Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon D'Anville. A testament to its popularity, the map was released in over 20 states between 1755 and 1791 and was published in a number of languages. The primary purpose of this ambitious cartographic undertaking was to justify British claims in North America; the final version was sanctioned by the British Board for Trade and Plantations in London.

This map continued to be used to clarify boundary disputes in both the United States and the British empire throughout the nineteenth century and as recently as 1932. It has been used to settle issues in the British House of Commons, the Dutch Royal Court, the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Supreme Court of the United States. It is also known to have hung in the halls of of Congress. This particular example is in excellent condition, and is a third edition of this seminal map. Rightly considered one of the foremost maps in American history, Mitchell’s Map of the British and French Dominions in North America represents a landmark opportunity for collectors.
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