Holiday surprise! A “Discovery” of several great maps.

Several remarkably rare maps were recently “discovered” in Winston-Salem, NC, at the Moravian Archives. Of course, the custodians of these maps have always known of their existence. However, the cartographic community has been largely unaware of these particular maps as evidenced by the absence of their documentation in the usual reference works. For example… A first state of the Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia is in the collection of the Moravian Archives. Most sources document only 4 surviving copies of the first state. In 2017, New York dealer Harry Newman  purchased (from Graham Arader) the copy that belonged to 18th century French cartographer, Jacques Bellin. Other copies are in the New York Public Library, the University of Virginia (viewable on line), and in the collection of the Duke of Northumberland at Alnwick. This catalog entry implies a sixth surviving copy of the first state in the Huntington Library, not yet confirmed. UPDATE: The Huntington Library catalog entry describing a first state has been confirmed to be inaccurate; it is likely a fourth state. A catalog revision is pending as of 1 April 2021. However, two additional privately held examples of the first state have been confirmed in 2019 and 2021. See

Rumsey describes only 5 copies of James Cook’s beautiful 1773 map of South Carolina in U.S. institutions, and another copy in the British Library. Cumming, in Southeast in Early Maps, also mentioned a copy in the Bibliotheque nationale de France in Paris. Cumming apparently was unaware that the nearby Moravian Archives held the Cook map. In fact, the Archives has not one, but two originals, one uncolored and one with original handcolor. For a more up-to-date census of surviving copies of Cook’s beautiful map, see Re-Stating Cook’s 1773 Map of the Province of South Carolina.

One can add the Moravian Archives’ copy of John Filson’s map of Kentucky to the approximately two dozen copies previously recorded. Their copy is in the final, 10th state.

Another surprise cartographic “discovery” recently occurred during a visit to Clemson University for a football game. An early arrival allowed time to tour Fort Hill, the historic home of John Calhoun and his daughter and son-in-law, Thomas Clemson, located in the center of campus. A small building in the back yard, shown below, served as Calhoun’s office.

CalhounOfficeIn this office one will find several maps, two of which are exceptionally rare. A copy of A Map of Mexico, Louisiana and the Missouri Territory, including also the State of Mississippi, Alabama Territory, East & West Florida, Georgia, South Carolina & Part of the Island of Cuba, by John H. Robinson. M.D… with moderate losses around the perimeter, hangs on the right wall towards the back. Hanging on the right wall towards the front is a pristine copy of La Tourrette’s reference map of the state of Louisiana : from the original surveys of the United States, which show the townships, sections, or mile squares, Spanish grants, settlement rights & c., also the plantations with the owners names engraved thereon. A soiled copy of John Wilson’s map of South Carolina, and a copy of Henry Tanner’s United States wall map are to your left as you enter the office.

Do you know of important map collections that might be “hidden” from the map community? Let us know via the “Leave a reply” box below.

External links:

Moravian Archives home page

Fort Hill information

David Rumsey’s copy of Cook’s 1773 map of South Carolina

Library of Congress copy of John H. Robinson’s map of Mexico, Louisiana, etc.

Dorothy Sloan’s auction catalog entry with an excellent discussion of the Robinson map.

Library of Congress copy of LaTourrette’s map of Louisiana.

Kenneth Nebenzahl’s superb essay: ‘The Filson map re-examined’ in The Map Collector, No. 56 (1991 Autumn): pp. 40-45. It may still be available on line via the Internet Archive (Wayback Machine) at this URL.

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