2. Geographical Mapping

The world and regional maps in this section were not intended for general or wide distribution. This does not mean that there was a conscious effort to keep the maps and their information secret. Rather, each was made by a small group of people who saw no need to have the map printed.

The lack of detailed printed maps of Maine until about 1800 indicates that there was no general interest in the geography of the “Eastern District” of Massachusetts. But a few people did have an interest in the real estate market and used manuscript maps to keep track of the district’s newly created towns: a colonial governor [item 7], the legislative committee charged with selling off land [item 8], and private investors [item 9]. In the early nineteenth century, manuscript maps were made of a number of Maine counties, whether to keep track of the towns [item 10] or geographical features more generally [item 11].

Other reasons lie behind the preparation of manuscript geographical maps. While printed maps were already relatively common in Japan by the early nineteenth century, elites highly valued the high art of expensive, manuscript maps [item 12]. More pragmatically, professional map makers could take a manuscript copy of a competitor’s map for reference [item 13].

John Small was a land surveyor from Scarborough, Me., who had risen to the rank of captain in the colonial militia (1745–1747, 1757–1761). He compiled this map of southern Maine for Governor Sir Francis Bernard. Bernard had acquired property in several parts of Maine and was deeply interested in the district’s geography. Just a few months later, Bernard employed him to survey the route from Fort Western (Augusta) to Quebec, during which Small was accidentally shot and killed.

Small’s style was that of contemporary colonial fashion, which remained indebted to seventeenth-century English style, and so appears to the modern eye to be rather naïve and old-fashioned.

See Lora Altine Woodbury Underhill, Descendants of Edward Small of New England and the Allied Families with Tracings of English Ancestry (Cambridge, Mass.: The Riverside Press, 1910), 164–213, esp. 200. Writing in 1763, Bernard misremembered the date of the fatal expedition as 1760: The Papers of Francis Bernard, Governor of Colonial Massachusetts, 1760–69, ed. Colin Nicolson, 2 vols. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press for the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 2007–2012), 1: 357.


7. John Small (1722–1761)

“To his Excellency Francis Bernard Esqr. . . . this map of the Countys [sic] of York Cumberland & Lincoln taken from the best authorities” (10 April 1761)

Manuscript on four sheets, 76cm x 98cm (assembled)

Osher Collection

The individual sheets have been separately imaged: upper-left, upper-right, lower-left, lower-right

The presence of the Massachusetts seal in the upper-right corner suggests that state authorities commissioned the Boston-based surveyor and mathematics teacher, Osgood Carleton, to make this large map. Indeed, Carleton probably made this map for the Committee for the Sale of Eastern Lands, to accompany an official report, requested by the Massachusetts legislature in March 1795, on land transactions in Maine.

This manuscript map is unrelated to Carleton’s large, printed maps of Maine (1798–1802; see item 9). Those maps presented a new geography grounded on detailed surveys of each town made only in 1795–1797.

See David Bosse, “Osgood Carleton, Mathematical Practitioner of Boston,” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 107 (1995): 141–64, esp. 154–55.


8. Osgood Carleton (1742–1816)

“A Plan of the District of Maine; Drawn from Several Plans” (1795)

Manuscript, 146cm x 103.5cm

Osher Collection

This anonymous map of the towns drained by the Androscoggin River was selectively copied from the 1802 edition of Osgood Carleton’s large, printed map of Maine. Given that the main interest in the interior of Maine in this period was in its timber, it is logical to think that the map was prepared by a group of potential speculators interested in potential timber lands accessible from the river.


9. Untitled map of the Androscoggin Valley, Maine (1802 or later)

Manuscript, 52cm x 41cm

OML Collection


10. B. R. Jones

“Plan of the Towns in the Eastern Part of Washington County [Maine]” (ca. 1830)

Manuscript, 62cm x 52cm

OML Collection


11. “Map of Somerset County” (1843)

Manuscript, drawn off-square, 96cm x 45cm, on wallpaper

Osher Collection


The legend is informative:

“1. Shiretown [i.e., Norridgewok] shaded red.

2. County lines ======== & shaded red.

3. The figures in the left hand corner of each town denote the miles to from the shire[town].

4. The figures in the right hand corner denote the number of inhabitants.”

In about 1785, the Japanese scholar Sekisui Nagakubo drew a large world map based on the even larger map that the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci had presented to the Chinese emperor in 1602. Nagakubo’s work was in turn copied, both in smaller printed versions for the popular market and in large manuscripts intended for wealthier consumers. The map on display here, by one Seii Sato, was one of the latter.

The description begins, at upper left, with the statement that “Since people doubt if the earth is really a sphere, to prove it, this map was drawn as if looking at the globe from a high place.” The rest of the account describes the world’s geographical features and its different peoples.

An explanation of the map’s text is available in an OML map commentary on a later, printed derivativeof Nagakubo’s work. See also Kazutaka Unno, “Cartography in Japan,” in Cartography in the Traditional East and Southeast Asian Societies, ed. J. B. Harley and David Woodward, vol. 2.2 of The History of Cartography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 346–477.


12. Seii Sato

“Chikyu Bankoku Sankai Yochi Zenzu” [World Map Illustration] (October 1821)

Manuscript, 70cm x 145.5cm

Osher Collection

Jacques Nicolas Bellin was a prominent French map maker of the eighteenth century; in addition to extensive geographical mapping (see also item 3), Bellin was first director of the Dépôt de la marine, the French government’s central hydrographic office. It could have been in either capacity that he made this manuscript copy of the famous map of Virginia by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson’s father); that map was published in London in 1753 and 1755. The reason for Bellin to make the copy is unclear, beyond keeping the information for future reference.

A rare impression of the 1753 printed map, from which this was most likely taken, can be consulted at the Special Collections of the University of Virginia. The map's history has recently been reexamined by Henry G. Taliaferro, “Fry and Jefferson Revisited,” Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts 34 (2013): online.


13. Jacques Nicolas Bellin (1703–1772)

“Carte de la Virginie avec partie du Maryland & de la Pensilvanie. Suivant ce que les Anglois en ons publié de plus recens” (1755)

Manuscript, 45cm x 66cm

Osher Collection