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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 Canada ou de la Nouvelle France et des Descouveres qui y ont ete faits...1703
The definitive map of Canada and the French empire in North America near the end of the reign of Louis XIV.
DE L’ISLE, Guillaume (1675-1726) Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France et des Descouveres qui y ont ete faits...1703
$ 6,800.00
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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
$ 7,500.00
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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
$ 8,500.00
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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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MITCHELL, John (1711-1768).  A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. [London:] Publish'd by the Author Feb.ry 13th. 1755
During the middle years of the eighteenth century, numerous maps were created as tensions over dominance in North America were leading up to the French and Indian War. "During those years, British and French cartographers were each claiming large, overlapping territories for their respective colonies in America. Cartographic warfare reached its peak in 1755, when several of the most enduring maps of North America were published. It was during 'the year of the great maps' that Dr. John Mitchell published his "Map of the British and French Dominions in North America" ... the next year, Britain was fighting a war with France that many historians consider to be the most decisive in history. At the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763, France surrendered more territory to the British than has changed hands in any other conflict before or since...
MITCHELL, John (1711-1768).  A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. [London:] Publish'd by the Author Feb.ry 13th. 1755
$ 450,000.00
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ARROWSMITH, Aaron Sr. (1750-1823). A Map of the United States of North America. London: A. Arrowsmith, 1796.
A tremendous 4 sheet map, dissected and laid on linen, and illustrating in great detail the extent of the United States as known immediately prior to Lewis & Clark's explorations to the west. The interior detail of the trans-Mississippi west was compiled largely from accounts supplied by Native Americans to Arrowsmith by the Hudson's Bay Company. The course of the Missouri River delineated on the map prompted Lewis and Clark to plot their course along the Missouri River, as it appeared to be the most direct route to the Pacific.
ARROWSMITH, Aaron Sr. (1750-1823). A Map of the United States of North America. London: A. Arrowsmith, 1796.
$ 45,000.00
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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
$ 125,000.00
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DISTURNELL, John (1801-1877). Maps de los Estados Unidos de Mejico... Engraved map with full original color. New York, 1847
Outbreak of the United States’ war with Mexico in 1846 resulted in Disturnell’s map becoming a highly successful enterprise. It received widespread acceptance as an authority for the geography of the greater Texas region, and Disturnell issued it in twenty-three separate editions between 1846 and 1858. Because it was the most available map of Mexico, it assumed a lasting place in history when Nicholas P. Trist, the American plenipotentiary, used an example of this state of the present map in negotiating the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which ended the U.S.-Mexican War and extended the western boundary of the United States to the Pacific Ocean.
DISTURNELL, John (1801-1877). Maps de los Estados Unidos de Mejico... Engraved map with full original color. New York, 1847
$ 110,000.00
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