The Mapping of North America

Volume 2

by Philip D. Burden


IMCoS Journal Autumn 2007
Number 110

The Mapping of North America II by Philip D Burden. Raleigh Publications, Elmcote House, The Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3HN, UK. 2007.
Pages 66 + 540; 12 colour plates and 392 black-and-white illustrations. 
ISBN 978-0-9527733-1-3. Hardback, price £175 or US$325.

There must be very few IMCoS members who are not aware of Philip Burden’s large volume The Mapping of North America I which encompassed all the North American maps (410 in number) from the period 1511 to 1670. This second volume moves forward thirty years to 1700, describing a further 364 maps.

Seymour Schwartz provides a succinct foreword to the work and comments on the spread of British colonisation throughout the 17th century, coupled with French expansion south and westwards and the revised geographical relationship between California and the rest of the continent. There was thus an increase in the number of maps of parts of North America over this time and in consequence more historical and geographical detail to be analysed and presented.

First, however, there is a lengthy Corrigenda & Addenda which parallels the equivalent section in the reviewer’s own The Mapping of the World and assembles information brought to light since publication of volume I. Burden’s valuable Corrigenda & Addenda covers no less than 142 such items, some of which are substantial entries describing ‘new’ maps. There is then an informative Introduction or overview of North American cartographical developments from 1670 – 1700 accompanied by 15 colour plates. The main carto-bibliography maintains the numerical sequence of entries, starting with entry 411 as volume I concluded with entry 410. Particularly helpful are the commendably clear black-and-white plates, usually one (and in a few cases two) for each entry.

The textual entries themselves are full and detailed, sometimes extending over more than one page. For instance, the commentary on the important North American map of 1700 by Claude and Guillaume De L’Isle takes up two pages with two plates and a listing of seven states up to 1718. In addition there is acknowledgement of the map’s influence on Pierre Mortier c.1707, Petrus Schenk 1708, Jeremiah Wolff c.1710, the Chatelain firm 1713, and Tobias Contrad Lotter 1772. As well as historical, social and geographical information, Burden places the map-maker and/or publisher in context and deals as fully as practicable with subsequent editions and states, including publications post-1700. References are cited in brief as are a selection of locations. The only criticism I might levy (and not in all cases) if that the artistic detail of cartouches (fauna, flora, peoples, classical attributes, navigational instruments etc) is given less attention than deserved.

As in volume I, there are several useful appendices, including Lost Maps; California as an Island; and First on American Maps. There is also a full alphabetical title index and a bibliography.

Philip Burden’s two volumes form an unrivalled colossus of North American mapping. The binding of the review copy of volume II in my hands appears firm and, unless seriously abused, unlikely to suffer from the weakening experienced by some purchasers of the first volume. I thoroughly commend this work to collectors, dealers, museum and institutional curators, geographers, historians and others alike.

Rodney Shirley

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