An Accurate Map of North and South Carolina With Their Indian Frontiers, Shewing in a distinct manner all the Mountains, Rivers, Swamps, Marshes, Bays, Creeks, Harbours, Sandbanks and Soundings on the Coasts; with the Roads and Indian Paths; as well as The Boundary or Provincial Lines, The Several Townships and other divisions of the Land in Both the Provinces; the whole From Actual Surveys by Henry Mouzon and Others.
Such is the full title of the document commonly known in cartographic circles as the Mouzon Map. It was the most valuable map of the Carolinas to both sides of the conflict during the American Revolution. Copies carried in saddle bags by both American and British generals, including George Washington's, are preserved in museums around the country. But that simple explanation of its genesis belies the actual complex history that begot the 1794 edition in our Important Winter Auction. "Mouzon Map" may be a more efficient moniker, but the length of the full title is more befitting the map's history.
Henry Mouzon, Jr. was the grandson of Huguenots - French Protestants who fled France to escape persecution during the Reformation - who had settled in South Carolina. Henry Jr.'s father died when he was eight years old, and he was sent back to France to be educated. He graduated from the Sorbonne as a first rank surveyor and civil engineer. Upon returning to South Carolina, Mouzon and his colleague Ephraim Mitchell were appointed to Mouzon's first public commission, a survey of the civil districs of South Carolina.
Cartography in the 18th century was a coordinated effort between surveyor, cartographer, engraver, and publisher. It was more often than not the publisher or engraver who got credit for the making of a map, rather than the person who actually surveyed the land and recorded its particularities. Which makes it remarkable that Mouzon has such reknown in the world of cartography for the Mouzon Map of North and South Carolina, which was first published in 1775 by Sayer & Bennett. The map was said to correct the errors of several well-known maps of the same area. That said, it is a matter of scholarly debate how much of Mouzon's own surveying work actually went into the map, and how much he simply copied from those maps on which he was meant to be improving. The "Others" of the full map title may actually deserve more of the credit for the map than they've historically gotten.
That first edition of Mouzon's map was a stand-alone publication. Over the years, however, it was included, along with many other maps, in Thomas Jeffery's The American Atlas. The 1794 edition of the Atlas is the source of the map in the Important Winter Auction. Thomas Jefferys, the "Geographer to King George III," was the leading map publisher in mid-18th century England. He was an engraver, with no education in cartography or surveying. He would simply engrave and publish the work of other surveyors and cartographers. His lack of training notwithstanding, in the 1760's Jefferys decided to try his own hand at surveying. He published a few maps of the counties of England that he had surveyed himself, but his venture into surveying was a failure and drove him into bankruptcy.
Enter Robert Sayer, another British engraver and map publisher with whom Jefferys had collaborated on "A general topography of North America and the West Indies" in 1768. Sayer helped to bail Jefferys out of bankruptcy, and when Jefferys died in 1771, bought the majority of the inventory of map plates that Jefferys had engraved. Because Jefferys had such a strong reputation, Sayer and his partner John Bennett continued to publish maps from these plates under Jefferys' name. Which is how they came to publish, in 1776, the first edition of the Thomas Jefferys' The American Atlas. Included in this collection of maps, of course, was the Mouzon Map, which Sayer and Bennett had published for the first time the year before.
The original mark of Sayer and Bennett on the 1794 edition of the Mouzon Map
But there are yet other names attached to the edition of the Mouzon Map in our Important Winter Auction. The 1794 American Atlas, still attributed to Thomas Jefferys, was published by Robert Laurie and James Whittle. Robert Laurie had been an apprentice to Robert Sayer from 1770-1777. When Sayer fell ill towards the end of his life, Laurie came back to manage his business. Upon Sayer's death in 1794, Laurie, with Whittle, took over. They were now the owners of all the engraving plates that had been passed down from Jefferys to Sayer. Laurie and Whittle published a large number of maps in that first year of owning Sayer's business, including the Jefferys American Atlas.
Needless to say, when it comes to authorship, there are very few straightforward answers in the world of 18th century maps. Towards the end of that century, maps became less the work of individual surveyors, engravers and publishers, and more of a centralized publishing effort. Maps played an important role in helping the citizens of the brand new United States of America to see their country as a unified whole. Mapmakers realized maps' marketable potential and began to produce them en masse. All of the editions of the Mouzon Map, however, embody a moment in history when the necessary partnership of many talented artisans in various fields is literally writ large on the product of their efforts.
Content created by the Leland Little editorial team