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A Chart of the Banks of Newfoundland , Drawn from a great number of hydrographical surveys, chiefly from those of Chabert, Cook and Fleurieu, connected and ascertained by astronomical observations
London: printed for Robert Sayer and John Bennet, 53 Fleet Street, 1775. Engraved chart, 540 x 705 mm. with simple early handcolouring to the coastlines; blank margins a little chipped (with slight loss, image unaffected), a little rubbed and toned, good condition overall. Attractive large map of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, derived from the survey work of James Cook that established his reputation as a pre-eminent naval hydrographer and ultimately led to selection as master of the Endeavour voyage of 1768-1771 to the east coast of Australia and the South Pacific. Cook's mapmaking in North American waters enjoys a legendary reputation for its accuracy, and is widely recognised as the apprentice-piece which got him command of the Endeavour. After serving his apprenticeship aboard Whitby colliers, Cook entered the Royal Navy in 1758 to fight the French in North America. Cook's reliable work surveying the St. Lawrence River attracted the attention of the Admiralty, an important task given the role of good charts in the capture of Quebec. During the eighteenth century the process of map-making was fraught with error; typically naval officers collected bearings while the business of of constructing charts was left to engravers working after the fact. Curious and methodical, Cook was at the vanguard of a new era of naval map-makers for whom technical competence was paramount. The need for a Newfoundland survey arose from the conclusion of the Seven Year's War, where the English asserted their fishing rights in the region. French fisherman were allowed limited concessions for catching and curing cod from these rich waters, but to enforce the terms of the Paris treaty of 1763 new and accurate charts were needed. Cook was selected as master of the Greville in 1764, and the Newfoundland surveys occupied the next three years. During this time he observed and recorded a solar eclipse using a quadrant by London instrument maker John Bird (whose tools were likewise used by Cook and astronomer Charles Green during their observation of the Transit of Venus), and prepared a paper read before the Royal Society in 1766. Cook's Royal Society address, combined with dedicated service against the French on the St Lawrence River and the Newfoundland charts 'established for him a well-deserved reputation with the higher authorities. Consequently, when the Royal Society presented a memorial to the King setting forth the advantages to be gained from the observation of the transit of Venus in the South Seas in 1769, it is not surprising to find Cook's name considered for the position of leader of the expedition' (Rear-Admiral H.P. Douglas, Cook as a Hydrographical Surveyor). Cook's appointment was controversial as he trumped Alexander Dalrymple, an experienced navigator well-established in Admiralty circles. The publication of Cook's survey work fell to Thomas Jeffreys, and this map was printed for his American Atlas of 1775. Jeffrey previously published a selection of North American maps titled A Collection of Charts of the Coasts of Newfoundland, published 1770 and now very rare. These maps formed the basis of The American Atlas and its companion volume The North-American Pilot. Both were popular and republished in several editions until 1806. The value of Jeffrey's publishing lay in his access to naval survey work: 'Thomas Jeffreys was an astute business-man and a publisher of integrity; as Geographer to the King, he enjoyed semi-official standing which gave him access to public documents and map-drafts for engraving and publication. It is a reasonable conjecture that his purchase of Cook's plates prompted him to seek other materials of comparable authority and assemble them into a sea-atlas' (Skelton).
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-08-13           Check availability:      Biblio    

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