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The Mapping of North America

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This detailed map of the northern regions extending to the north pole was first published in Herman Moll’s ‘Atlas Minor’, 1729. This is an example of the fourth state of six and was published in Thomas Salmon’s ‘Modern History’, 1744-46. Following the block of descriptive text being added in 1732 the only real changes to the plate were the pagination in the upper margin. The map records the north east explorations to Spitzbergen and Nova Zembla and current knowledge of a north west passage. The west coast of North America is conveniently omitted due to lack of confident knowledge.

Herman Moll (1654?-1732) was born it is believed in Bremen, Germany, although he is often thought of as being Dutch. He is first recorded in London working on the Moses Pitt atlas in 1678. Much of his early work was undertaken for others or in partnership with the likes of Christopher Browne, Philip Lea, or Robert Morden. Moll’s earliest world atlases were geographical texts. He then moved to the opposite end of the size spectrum with the ‘World Described’, offering a series of elephant folio sized maps. A first attempt at a quarto sized atlas was the ‘Atlas Geographus’ issued in parts from 1711-17 which is extremely rare.

Moll returned to the quarto format later in his life issuing in parts Thomas Salmon’s ‘Modern History’ from 1725. Many but not all these plates were published in an atlas without text c.1727 entitled ‘A Set of Thirty-Two New and Correct Maps of the Principal Parts of Europe’. This included a set of world and four continental maps but as Moll expanded production he was able to publish a complete set in 1729 under the title of ‘Atlas Minor’. Although in the last years of his life Moll did not slow down, he was constantly updating his maps and these were no exception. The biggest alteration came however following his death in 1732 when the atlas was acquired by Thomas and John Bowles. Their imprints were added to all the plates as were plate numbers. Kershaw (1993-98) 410; Shirley BL G.SALM-1c; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).

MOLL, Herman

A Map of the North Pole

London, c.1746
205 x 275 mm., cut close lower left corner, otherwise in good condition.
Stock number: 10670
£ 195
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