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10 of the Most Important Maps in American History

Here is an offering of what we feel are the 10 most important maps in American History. They all show a great deal of new detail from the latest discoveries. Of course all these map makers had to have strong connections with the very highest levels of government to obtain this profoundly important information. And they did! Louis XIV actually asked Sanson to be his Secretary of State he was so impressed with his intellect. But Sanson turned him down because cartography was his first love.

The best part of owning these "mother" or "chief type" maps is that the thrill of ownership increases over time as the historical importance permeates the room where they are located. I am indebted to Professors William Patterson Cumming and Seymour Schwatz for writing books that focused on this subject close to 50 years ago. I still remember the thrill of walking out of the Yale Co-op in 1975 with Cumming's recently published "The Southeast in Early Maps" It still is the bible for collectors who truly want to know WHY a map can be called "important." He was a Professor of English so the reading is a pleasure.

And then there was the great surgeon, Seymour Schwartz, author of the Handbook of Surgery. After describing a liver transplant, it was easy for him to teach us all why the John Mitchell map was the most important map in American history. What a great man he was. Like the maps he described, he himself was the template for being a full man.

- Graham Arader

SANSON, Nicolas (1600-1667) Amerique Septentrionale , 1650
Rare Map of America From The Golden Age of Dutch Cartography. The most advanced depiction of the continent in the mid-17th Century and the source map for most subsequent maps for the next 40 years.
SANSON, Nicolas (1600-1667) Amerique Septentrionale , 1650
$ 8,500.00
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De L'ISLE, Guillaume (1675-1726). Carte du Mexique et de la Floride. 1703
Drawn from the reports brought back to France from the survivor's of the La Salle expedition into the interior of North America. In the year preceding the publication of the map, De L'Isle utilized his position with the King of France to gain access to the best available information from the New World.
De L'ISLE, Guillaume (1675-1726). Carte du Mexique et de la Floride. 1703
$ 12,000.00
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MOLL, Herman (1654-1732). A New and Exact map of the Dominions of the King of Great Britain on Ye Continent of North America. London: Thos: Lowndes, John Bowles, and I. King, 1715.
One of the most important maps of the 18th century relating to America, this was the first large-scale map to show English developments in North America, and also the first to show the American postal routes.
MOLL, Herman (1654-1732). A New and Exact map of the Dominions of the King of Great Britain on Ye Continent of North America. London: Thos: Lowndes, John Bowles, and I. King, 1715.
$ 14,000.00
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Guillaume DE L'ISLE. Carte De La Louisiane Et Du Cours Du Mississipi. 1718
According to William Patterson Cumming this is one of the important "chief type maps" of North America and was extensively copied by other map makers.
Guillaume DE L'ISLE. Carte De La Louisiane Et Du Cours Du Mississipi. 1718
$ 18,000.00
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POPPLE, Henry  (d. 1743). Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements adjacent Thereto. London: sold by S. Harding and W.H. Toms, 1733 [but 1739-1740].
A FINE COPY OF THE FIRST LARGE-SCALE PRINTED MAP OF COLONIAL NORTH AMERICA, THE FIRST PRINTED MAP TO SHOW THE THIRTEEN COLONIES AND A MONUMENT OF NORTH AMERICAN CARTOGRAPHY. Henry Popple's Map of the British Empire in America marks the beginning of a new epoch in the mapping of America, and was the first in a series of maps published up to the 1760s that would catapult England to the forefront in the study of the geography of the continent.
POPPLE, Henry (d. 1743). Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements adjacent Thereto. London: sold by S. Harding and W.H. Toms, 1733 [but 1739-1740].
$ 255,000.00
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JOHN MELISH (1767-1822) “Map of the United States with Contiguous British & Spanish Possessions” Philadelphia: 1816
This landmark wall map, by John Melish, is highly coveted by collectors, as it is the first map to show the United States potentially stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, giving visual expression to the idea of “Manifest Destiny.” In the early 19th century, many Americans felt it was their mission to expand the borders of the United States westward for ideological, political and economic reasons. This map was published just as the notion of Manifest Destiny was crystallizing in the general American consciousness, and predicted the glorious fate that the young nation anticipated.
JOHN MELISH (1767-1822) “Map of the United States with Contiguous British & Spanish Possessions” Philadelphia: 1816
$ 175,000.00
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ARROWSMITH, Aaron (1750-1823)  A Map of the United States of North America. 1796
The first map published in England to recognize and name the “United States.” Arrowsmith was Britain’s pre-eminent wall map publisher, and this superb example has the finest original color we have ever seen come on the market. Completely original and unrestored.
ARROWSMITH, Aaron (1750-1823) A Map of the United States of North America. 1796
$ 48,000.00
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DISTURNELL, John (1801-1877)  Mapa de lose Estados Unidos de Méjico...1846
The third most important map in American history. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo gave the United States almost half of Mexico, including Texas and California. It referred specifically to Disturnell’s map to define the border between the US and Mexico. But following the map literally would have given Mexico the best location for a railroad route to the Pacific, so Mexican/US boundary issues remained unresolved for years after peace was achieved.
DISTURNELL, John (1801-1877) Mapa de lose Estados Unidos de Méjico...1846
$ 285,000.00
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MITCHELL, John (1711-1768)  A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America…1755
“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.
MITCHELL, John (1711-1768) A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America…1755
$ 700,000.00
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