Has the “Mouzon” manuscript map been found?

The “Mouzon” manuscript map:  In 1940, the antiquarian map and book selling firm of Henry Stevens, Son, & Stiles, afforded “another opportunity to collectors to inspect a further selection from their unrivalled [sic] collection of decorative and historical maps now in New York.” The Old Print Shop, based in New York City, acted as their local agent and arranged for a printed catalogue, which includes the following credit:  “The catalogue [was] designed and the maps described by Henry Stevens, grandson of Henry Stevens of Vermont, famous American Bibliographer and Bookseller.”

The following is the entry for Item 98 in the catalogue.

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THE ORIGINAL DRAWINGS BY DE LA ROCHETTE OF MOUZON’S MAP OF
NORTH AND SOUTH CAROLINA.

CAROLINA, 1775. [An Accurate Map of North and South Carolina with their
Indian Frontiers, Mountains, Rivers, Swamps, Marshes, Bay, Creeks, Harbours, &c., with the Roads and Indian, Paths as well as the Boundary or Provincial Lines, the Several Townships and other divisions of the Land in both the Provinces ; the whole from Actual Surveys by Henry Mouzon and others. London: Robt. Sayer and J. Bennett, May 30th, 1775].
Size 4 sheets, each 22 3/4 x 16 1/4 = 45 1/2 x 32 1/2  inches.    $375.00   (98)

*** THE ORIGINAL DRAWINGS made by Mr. De La Rochette from the Surveys of Henry Mouzon and others. From these drawings the copper-plates (from which the map, see infra, was printed) were engraved on a slightly larger scale, the printed map measuring 56 x 39 inches as against the 45 1/2 x 32 1/2  inches of the drawings. On the verso of one of the sheets of the drawings is the following endorsement “Original Drawings of 4 Sheet North & South Carolina made by Mr. De La Rochette in which are the Harbours of CharsIston (sic) & Port Royal—part of the Stock of the late Mr Sayer—Will’d to Laurie & Whittle.”

A careful comparison of these originals with a copy of the printed map as published by Robt. Sayer & J. Bennett in 1775 fails to show any discrepancies except that the Drawing is on a smaller scale and that the top left corner of the top left sheet, which in the printed map is occupied by the title (as given above), is blank. In the printed map a few small sailing ships together with some dotted lines (marked “A Good Channel”) leading into some of the Harbours bordering on the Atlantic have been introduced.

On May 13th [1920] there was sold by public auction at Puttick & Simpson’s Sale Rooms in Leicester Square London “The remaining Stock of Messrs. Laurie & Whittle” and it is from there that these drawings in all probability emanated.1  Laurie & Whittle were the descendants of a long line of Map-makers the following being the chronological history of the firm:
P. Overton                     1720-1745                   Whittle & R. H. Laurie           1813-1818
Sayer — —                     1745-1794                   R. H. Laurie … …                    1818-1858
Sayer & J. Bennett       1770-1787                   A. & A. A. Findley …              1858-1875
Robt. Laurie & Whittle 1794-1812               Imray Laurie, Norie & Wilson           1876
from which it will be seen that Laurie & Whittle, to whom these original Drawings were bequeathed by Mr. Sayer, were the successors to the firm of Sayer & Bennett the publishers in 1775 of the printed map of which these original Drawings are the prototype.
There is no indication on the printed map that it was drawn by Mr. De La Rochette and it is possible that the endorsement on the back of these drawings is the only evidence of this fact. For the Printed Map see infra.

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The manuscript map attributed to Mr. De La Rochette was sent to Charles Rush, Librarian at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Rush invited William P. Cumming, the leading authority on colonial era maps of the Southeast, to inspect the map. Due to the difference in size between the manuscript map and the printed “Mouzon” map, Cumming had serious doubt that it was the very map used as a template by the engraver. Acting on this opinion (and perhaps also due to the hefty price), Rush returned the map to The Old Print Shop in April 1945.  There, the trail went cold. Business records for Henry Stevens, Son & Stiles are not known to survive. Internet searches and searching WorldCat and a number of individual library catalogs turned up nothing but old photostats at UNC.

Recently, Craig Keeney, Cataloging Librarian at the South Caroliniana Library on the campus of the University of South Carolina, set about to assess some material in the Henry P. Kendall Collection that had never been catalogued. One item in the drawer was a map, in four sheets, that matched the description of Item 98 in the 1940 catalog… except for one rather large discrepancy. The map at USC is virtually identical in size to a printed “Mouzon” map, i.e., much larger than the dimensions given in the 1940 catalog.

Upon inspection of the USC map, it was found to be a manuscript map (not engraved or lithographed) on 18th Century laid paper. Most puzzling, the handwritten endorsement on the verso, as stated in the Item 98 description above, and added in the mid 1790s or later, matched perfectly with the illustration in the 1940 catalog, and also matched perfectly the UNC photostat. Perfectly, including every ink blemish, smudge, and paper feature.  Despite the discrepancy in the size of the map at USC versus the reported size of the manuscript for sale in 1940, the perfect match of the endorsement, smudges, and focal paper loss on the verso is sufficient proof to this blogger that they are one and the same. Unless an acceptable explanation is forthcoming, one is forced to conclude that the measurements reported in the 1940 catalog and subsequently by Cumming, are wrong. Unfortunately, I can’t prove that, either.  One of the photostats at UNC includes a Yale University Library ruler next to the manuscript map. So, regardless if the photostats were reproduced actual size or not, the ruler lying next to the manuscript should allow us to make a precise measurement of the 1940 manuscript map. My calculations using that method, unfortunately, match the dimensions listed in the 1940 catalog. One possible explanation is that the ruler was lying next to a previously made reduced size photostat, and not next to the actual manuscript map.2 However, in Southeast in Early Maps, Cumming states specifically that, in 1945, he “examined the original MS sheets with Mr. Rush”, not a photostat.

The only remaining puzzle is how Henry Stevens, Son, & Stiles, managed to record such precise (down to the fraction of an inch), yet grossly erroneous measurements for the map drawn by Louis De La Rochette, and how these same grossly erroneous measurements were confirmed by others. I’ve puzzled and puzzled til my puzzler is sore3. I’ll leave it to brighter minds to solve that one.

One can reasonably conclude that Henry P. Kendall acquired from Henry Stevens, Son & Stiles, the manuscript map used as a template by the engraver for the “Mouzon” map of the Carolinas published in 1775. It would not have been the first, nor the most expensive, purchase Henry Kendall made from the Stevens firm. Kendall purchased a 1733 map of North Carolina by Edward Moseley from the same company in 1931 for $750.

Would you like to see this historically important manuscript map? Perhaps you  can solve the puzzle! The map will be available for viewing at the MESDA Map Seminar in Winston-Salem, in October. Register soon! Space is limited.

Questions, comments, and especially corrections are most welcome. Please use the “What’s on your mind?” comment box below.

Additional reading:

A previous blog post discussed how the “Mouzon” map did not originate from Henry Mouzon.

University of South Carolina Library bibliographic record for the manuscript map:
https://pascal-usc.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01PASCAL_USCCOL/ena7hp/alma991026490369005618

References

  1. According to a newspaper advertisement published in The Times on April 26, 1920, the auction of “the remaining stock of engravings, drawings, maps, and engraved plates of Messrs. Laurie and Whittle, the celebrated publishers of the 18th Century, the Property of a Descendant, deceased… will sell by auction…on Thursday May 13th and the following day…” It is interesting that Stevens would leave out the year of the auction some twenty years after it occurred. It makes one ponder if he had written this catalog description many years earlier.
  2. I thank Alex Clausen, business parter of Barry Ruderman (https://raremaps.com) for this potential solution to the puzzle.
  3. $1 to Dr. Seuss

What's on your mind?