|TITLE: A New Description of Carolina.|
A beautiful example of John Speed's important 1676 map of the Carolina colony. Heavily based upon the explorations of John Lederer and Ogilby's Lords Proprietor's Map of 1674. This seminal map represents one of the earliest attempts to map the Carolina interior.
Oriented to the West, map covers from the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, Florida, north to Jamestown, Virginia. Extends inland as far as the Appellation (Apalathean) Mountains. By the middle of the 17th century the coast of Carolina had been fairly well mapped, St. Augustine, Port Royal, Charleston (Charles Town), Cape Fear, Cape Lookout, Cape Hatteras, Roanoke, Cape Henry and the James River are all shown with a fair approximation of accuracy. We see ample evidence of the Lords Proprietors including Albemarl County, Clarendon County, Berkley County, Craven County, etc. This map also incorporates numerous elements from earlier maps including Lake Sarrope, which was identified by the De Bry - Le Moyne map of 1565 and most likely represents Lake Okeechobee. Also shows the River May (historically either the St. John's River or the Savannah River, depending on the map).
Where this map really gets interesting is the interior, which is heavily based upon the explorations of John Lederer in the 1670s. Lederer, a German physician who had moved to the colony several years before was commissioned by the Lord Proprietor, Anthony Ashley Cooper (Earl of Shaftesbury), to explore the interior in search of a pass beyond the mountains to the Pacific. As the time it was commonly assumed that the mainland of North America was a relatively narrow strip of land that could be traversed swiftly easily to access the rich trade opportunities of the Pacific. Though Lederer never managed to cross the Appellations, he did undertake three voyages which significantly impacted cartography in this region for several hundred years.
Today Lederer is highly criticized for fabricating much of his journey and a cursory examination of the map will reveal what might seem to be several gross cartographic errors, including a great savanna in the Piedmont, the "Deserta Arensa", and Ashley Lake in the north. Lederer's route is roughly traced on this map as he heads almost directly west from the Falls of the James River before turning southwest at the Mahock village (near Richmond). Keeping to a southwesterly course, Lederer passes a great savanna on his right and ultimately finds himself on the shores of Ashley Lake (which he calls Ushery and which on our map corresponds with the Great Freshwater Lake of the American Southwest popularized by the 1606 Mercator - Hondius Map). At this point Lederer returns along a parallel but more easterly course passing through a great sandy desert, the Deserta Arenosa, before returning to known lands.
Many scholars have argued that Lederer simply lied about many of his findings, but we find that much of what he said, when taken in the context of lonely explorer traversing an unknown land several hundred years ago, has merit. Lederer's desert, the Arenosa, probably corresponds the Sand Hills region, though he does slightly exaggerate the scope. Some scholars criticize the desert as, according to his narrative Lederer spent several days on the desert before encountering water. Given the geography of the Sand Hills as we know it, it would seem likely that he would have such difficulty finding water, but his placement of the desert compared with the actual placement of the Sand Hills remains convincing.
The savanna in the piedmont region is non-existent today, though something very much like this may have existed in Lederer's day. Lederer describes this savanna as "marish grounds at the foot of the Apalataei." Cumming notes that "It is certainly probable that before the forest land was denuded and the top soil washed away, the piedmont may have had marshy sections, which have since largely disappeared". That Lederer expands this to a vast region is understandable given the somewhat limited scope of his investigations and his dependence upon Native American guides with whom he could only communicate via sign language.
The third anomalous element on this map is the great Lake Ashley. This lake, the source of the May River, had appeared on maps of this region since the mid 16th century Le Moyne-De Bry map. Lederer would have no doubt been familiar with later incarnations of this lake as popularized by Mercator and Hondius.
Lederer claims to have found the lake and even to have sampled its waters. Some scholars have claimed that Lederer fabricated this discovery to add legitimacy to his explorations. Indeed, the lake had been around on maps for a hundred years and, had he not come across it, many of his other discoveries would have been thrown into doubt. Cummings suggests that Lederer may have turned back somewhat earlier than he claimed and simply added the lake having misunderstood the American Indian sign language describing the wave-like undulations of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Another scholar, Lyman Carrier, suggests that Lederer has actually stumbled across the Catawba Valley where "had the rivers been obstructed by beaver dames or debris, or had the channels through some of their gorges not been cut to their present levels, large areas of flooded land would have resulted."
After Lederer, nearly twenty five years would pass before another European explorer documented this region and consequently it is conceivable that whatever he actually saw, much may have changed. All in all this is a stunning map of seminal importance and a must have for any serious Carolina collection.
Engraved by Francis Lamb and published in Richard Chiswell's 1674 editon of John Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain
|Location of Origin: England|
|Dimensions: Height: 15 inches, Width: 20 inches|
|Primary Classification: Antique Books, Manuscripts, and Maps : Maps, Views and Celestials : Americas|
|Secondary Classification: Fossils, Science, Natural History, and Rocks for Sale : Globes / Maps|
|Carrier, L.,"The Veracity of John Lederer", William and Mary Quarterly, Series II, Vol. 19, No. 4, p. 435 - 445.Talbot, W., The Discoveries of John Lederer..., 1672.Cumming, W., "Geographical Misconceptions of the Southeast in the Cartography of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries", The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 4, No. 4., pp. 476-492.Cunz, Dieter, "John Lederer: Significance and Evaluation", The William and Mary Quarterly, Series II, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 175-185.The North Carolina State Archives, MC.150.1676s; MARS Id: 126.96.36.199.63.Phillips (America), p. 817.Cumming, W. P., The Southeast in Early Maps, #77.Goss, J., The Mapping of Nroth America, Three Centuries of Map-Making 1500-1860, 41.|
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