Rare Maps of North Carolina

In this blog post, we’ll list a few of the rarest of the rare maps of North Carolina published prior to 1800.  The list is anecdotal; a map makes the list if I don’t recall seeing an example sold in the past 20 years, despite the number of surviving institutional copies, or if I’m aware of no more than five extant copies. Let’s get started!

Rare Maps of North Carolina

The maps are listed chronologically. As you will see, most of the rarest pre-1800 printed maps of North Carolina were published in the 18th Century.

1682:  CAROLINA Newly Discribed By Iohn Seller. (Plate 2).
In 1682, John Seller curiously engraved two separate but nearly identical plates, each with the same title, described as Plate 1 and Plate 2 in Ashley Baynton-Williams’s PRINTED MAPS OF THE  CAROLINAS: 1590 – 1800.1 Although examples from each plate are rare, those printed from Plate 2 are amongst the rarest of the rare. Plate 1 was for Seller’s personal use in his Atlas Maritimus and several of his subsequent late 17th Century publications. Plate 2 is found in some copies of Samuel Wilson’s 1682 promotional tract, An Account of the Province of Carolina in America, and presumably was engraved for that purpose. There are very rare instances of Plate 2 bound in a few of Seller’s works. Plate 2 is illustrated in Philip Burden’s The Mapping of North America II, but the only on line images I could find are of Plate 1.

1709: John Lawson’s Ocacock Inlet No. Carolina…
This little map, drawn by John Lawson on 22 August 1709, is currently known in only one extant example discovered by Philip Burden in a small atlas owned by the Admiralty Library in Portsmouth, UK.2 You can see an image and read more about the map in a previous NC Map Blog post.

1709: Kocherthal’s Untitled map of Virginia and the Carolinas
This map was published in Joshua Kocherthal’s promotional tract, Ausfürlichen und umständlicher Bericht von der berühmten Landschaft Carolina. You can see a high resolution image of the map and read more about  Kocherthal on Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps, Inc. web site.  You can read more about this map on a previous NC Map Blog post.

Edward Moseley Double Play

1733:  A new and correct map of the Province of North Carolina by Edward Moseley, late surveyor general of the said province..
Three Four currently known examples of this large map survive. One is in the National Archives at Kew, reportedly not in good condition. The example at Eton College is in very good condition. A third copy was in Henry Kendall‘s collection of maps. Its location since his death in 1959 was unknown to the cartographic world until two months after the date of this blog post (see UPDATE below). A fourth known surviving copy was discovered in the attic of a home in Edenton, NC, c1982. This map was subsequently donated to East Carolina University, where it still resides.

UPDATE 19 April 2021: The Kendall copy survives! Lawrence Houston, Conservator at The Joyner Library, East Carolina University, has alerted the blogger of the location of Henry P. Kendall’s copy of Edward Moseley’s 1733 map of North Carolina. Since 1959 (the year of Kendall’s death), Kendall’s original Moseley map has been in the Yale University Library. It remained uncatalogued for fifty-seven years. Mr. Houston has confirmed that the Moseley map at Yale precisely matches the photostats that were made of the map in Kendall’s collection in the mid twentieth century. Here is the Yale catalog link.

1737:  New und Exacte Carte von Soud & Nord Carolina, Virginia… 1736. E. Moseley
This map may be as scarce as Moseley’s large map of North Carolina. It was published in 1737 in Switzerland, in a promotional book, Neu-gefundenes Eden. Oder: Ausführlicher bericht von Süd- und Nord-Carolina, Pensilphania, Mary-Land & Virginia. The copy of this book in the Clements Library contains this Moseley map and the “Eden” map described below. The British Library reportedly also has this book with this map. The copies of the book in the John Carter Brown Library and the Library of Congress (LoC) each lack the Moseley map, though the LoC, at least once upon a time, had a separate copy of this Moseley map that presumably had been extracted from the book. This Moseley map covers Maryland, the eastern portions of Virginia and the Carolinas, and a smidgen of Pennsylvania, as well as the southern tip of New Jersey.


1737:  Eden in Virginia von der Helvetischen Societet…1736
This map was also published in Neu-gefundenes Eden. Oder: Ausführlicher bericht von Süd- und Nord-Carolina, Pensilphania, Mary-Land & VirginiaThe map is centered near present day South Boston, VA. A part of North Carolina occupies the lower third of the map. The purpose of the map was to illustrate the location of a large tract of land in southern Virginia to which William Byrd II was soliciting Swiss emigrants. The example in the John Carter Brown Library can be seen here. Byrd and Moseley both participated in the 1728 NC/VA boundary survey, and it is likely that Moseley created this map at Byrd’s request (I have zero evidence to support this statement).

1738: ...This Chart of his Majesties [sic] Province of North Carolina… James Wimble
This beautiful chart of the North Carolina coast by James Wimble (1696-1744) is  scarcer than The Southeast in Early Maps would lead one to believe. Examples listed in that book for the University of South Carolina, the University of North Carolina, and the State Archives in Raleigh are not originals. They are either photostats or 19th Century (1851) or 20th Century facsimiles. I have yet to see an original 1738 Wimble chart in North Carolina.  Definite originals are held by the John Carter Brown Library, Yale, and the national libraries of Spain and France.  The British Library on line catalog lists one copy, though they actually have two3. The UK National Archives (Kew) catalog lists two copies. None of these BL or UKNA holdings are viewable on line.

1744: untitled map of northeastern North Carolina, showing the eastern most portion of John Carteret’s one eighth part of Carolina.
This map was included in a pamphlet titled, Grant and release of one eighth part of Carolina from His Majesty to Lord Carteret. As part of an agreement between the King and John Carteret (Lord Granville), the pamphlet likely had a small print run. It is very difficult to track the map separately from the pamphlet since the map has no title. The map includes the region of Albemarle Sound, covering from the Virginia line to the Granville Line, the latter referred to as the “Dividing Line for the 1/8 part of Carolina set out and marked 1743.” A photostat of the LoC’s copy of the pamphlet, including the map, can be viewed on line via institutional subscription to Gale Primary Sources: Eighteenth Century Collections Online. In addition to the LoC, original copies of the pamphlet, presumably with map, are held by the British Library, the John Carter Brown Library, and the New York Historical Society. The manuscript map that was the template for the engraved map is held by the UK National Archives, and is viewable on line in the UK National Archives’ Colonial America Series via institutional subscription.

1756: VIRGINIA, NORTH CAROLINA and Parts adjacent: from the latest Discoveries
This small map, engraved by R.W. Seale, was published c1756 in A New and Complete History of the British Empire in America. This work was never completed, contributing to the scarcity of this map. Copies of the unfinished book are in the Harvard Library, the Clements Library, NYPL, and UCLA Library. Internet search engine and WorldCat collectively list copies of the map in the the Maryland State Archives, the University of Connecticut Library, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. The last of those has been confirmed to be an original, from which a digital image has been obtained. It is a cute little map! I have yet to encounter an example of this map on the market. A companion map, South Carolina, Georgia, and Parts adjacent; from the latest Improvements., also engraved by Seale, is equally scarce, though one copy appeared on a dealer’s web site in January 2022.

1760-61c Tractus I and Tractus II
Beginning in the late 1750s, and for the next twenty years, Philip Christian Gottlieb Reuter surveyed and mapped (frequently in duplicate or triplicate) the Wachovia tract in North Carolina, an approximately 100,000 acre tract in present day Forsyth County. The Moravians had purchased the land from Lord Granville in 1752. Shortly after the purchase, and facing financial difficulties, the Brethren formed a land company and sold 2,000 acre shares to their members to cover the costs of the purchase, survey, deeds, and quit-rents. Amongst the many maps of Wachovia drawn by Reuter were four drawn specifically for use by the land company. Maps I, II, and III covered the middle and eastern thirds of Wachovia, from north to south, respectively. Tract IV manuscript map included the western part of Wachovia. Engraved and printed maps were produced to enable each shareholder to gain a better perspective of the location of the lots. Perhaps to save engraving costs, or perhaps for convenience, manuscript maps I, II, and III were merged into two engraved and printed maps, Tractus I and Tractus II. The original print run may have numbered 60 or less.4 Extant copies of printed Tractus I are at UNC-Chapel Hill, seen here, in the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, PA, and in the Moravian Archives in Herrnhut, Germany. Two extant copies of printed Tractus II are in Herrnhut, one of which can be seen here. Tract IV apparently was never engraved, though the abrupt beginning of text in the middle of the word “LAND” on the left/west side of Tractus II suggests that an engraving of manuscript Tract IV was intended.  Unfortunately, potential holdings of either manuscript or printed “Tractus” maps by the local Moravian Archives in Winston-Salem is completely unknown.

1797: Partie de la Province de la Caroline du Nord
This map is bound in Prospectus. Compagnie de Wilmington, : dans la Caroline du Nord, sur la riviere de Cape-Fear, aux États-Unis de l’Amérique, “a prospectus for the formation of a joint stock company to drain and explore a portion of the ‘Great-Green-Swamp’ near Wilmington, NC, a portion of which had been sold by Fenwick, U.S. consul at Bordeaux, to one Senovert, a Paris businessman.”–Echeverria & Wilkie.5  The map covers the eastern part of North Carolina (as far west as Raleigh and Fayetteville) and is copied from the map of North Carolina by Samuel Lewis that was published in Carey’s American Atlas, 1795. The John Carter Brown Library’s copy of the prospectus and map are viewable on line via the Internet Archive. The map appears to be bound upside down, but the work can be downloaded as a pdf and thus rotated. In addition to the JCB Library, the New York Historical Society has the map. Echeverria & Wilkie also recorded an example in the Library of Congress.

Jonathan Price Triple Play

1795:  Occacock from Actual Survey. By I. Price 1795
was the very first map drawn, engraved, and printed in North Carolina. It was published in a pamphlet that provided sailing directions for the delicate passage through Ocracoke Inlet. This map has been subject of a prior post on the North Carolina Map Blog. Original examples of this map are in the State Archives in Raleigh and in a private collection. The pamphlet was reprinted in the October 1926 issue of the North Carolina Historical Review, available on line via this link.

1798:  To navigators this chart being an actual survey of the sea coast and inland navigation from Cape Henry to Cape Roman is most respectfully inscribed by Price & Strother.
This chart of the North Carolina coast was also drawn, engraved, and printed in North Carolina. The copy in the John Carter Brown Library is viewable here. Other examples are in the Library of Congress, Harvard Library, and the American Philosophical Society. The State Archives in Raleigh lists a copy in their on line catalog but does not clarify if it is an original or a photostat. The latter is likely since it was not included in the NC Maps digitization project.

1798: A map of Cape Fear River and its vicinity from the Frying Pan Shoals to Wilmington by actual survey : Addressed to the commissioners of navigation of Port Wilmington / by Price & Strother.
Unlike the two maps above, Price and Strother had their map of Cape Fear engraved and printed in Philadelphia. Original copies are in the State Archives in Raleigh (viewable here), the Library of Congress, and Harvard Library.

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That concludes my list of the rarest of the rare maps of North Carolina published prior to 1800. Questions? Corrections? Comments? Do you know of other institutional holdings for any of the above maps? Please use the “What’s on your mind?” comment box below.



  1. See entry numbers 43 and 44 at https://mapforum.com/04/carolinas.html
  2. See entry #726 on page 35 of this pdf: https://www.caburden.com/addenda/Addenda.pdf
  3. Ashley Baynton-Williams, who has a more intimate knowledge of the map collection in the British Library than the library’s on line catalog, notes the two following examples: British Library copy 1, Maps 7.Tab.98 (13) & (14): two sheets, in original colour;  British Library copy 2, Maps *71975.(1) black and white, dissected and mounted on linen.
  4. “Spangenberg sent the map to van Laer, suggesting that fifty to sixty copies of it be copper-plated so that each member of the land company could have one.” From PHILIP CHRISTIAN GOTTLIEB REUTER FIRST SURVEYOR OF WACHOVIA, by William Hinman (unpublished master’s thesis, May 1985), referring to a letter referenced as “Ltr. Spangenberg to van Laer, January 29, 1761, LC-MD, R.14.Ba.Nr.2c, 547-8.”
  5. Echeverria, Durand., Wilkie, Everett C.. The French Image of America: 1791-1815. United States: Scarecrow Press, 1994.

2 thoughts on “Rare Maps of North Carolina”

  1. Hi, I am Lawrence Houston, conservator at East Carolina University. I was recently able to locate and positively identify the ‘missing’ Kendall copy of the Moseley map. The count is back up to 4 known copies of the 1733 Moseley map.

What's on your mind?