Plan of the Town of Boston, With the Attack on Bunker’s Hill, in the Peninsula of Charlestown, the 17th of June, 1775. J. Norman, engraver. Sayer, Bennett, after.

Plan of the Town of Boston, With the Attack on Bunker’s Hill, in the Peninsula of Charlestown, the 17th of June, 1775.

[Boston, 1781]. Engraving, 11.5” x 5.25”, plus title and margins.

A very scarce and dramatic map produced by an important engraver in Boston during the Revolutionary War, including details of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The first map of the Battle printed in Boston, it shows all of Boston and Charlestown, and depicts the Battle at its height, including the positions of the colonial and English forces. Charlestown is in flames following a bombardment by the British—and the final phase of the Battle is underway. Having been repulsed twice, the British troops are shown advancing on colonial forces under William Prescott and Israel Putnam positioned behind their rail fence redoubt. A British squadron in the Charles River and Boston Harbor fires on Charlestown. Depicted in Boston and Charlestown are buildings, streets, hills, farms, wharfs, the encampment of the British regulars on Boston Common, and so on. Relief is shown by hachure, and at the lower-right a table lists the major fires in Boston, the most important Boston streets, and prominent buildings.

Constituting its most desirable form, this plan was originally issued bound into the very rare first American edition (1781) of James Murray’s history of the American Revolution, An Impartial History of the War in America, featured in Part 5 of Volume I. The map is a close re-engraving of the map that appeared in the English edition of Murray’s history, which itself was derived from an inset on Sayer and Bennett’s map The Seat of War in New-England (1775). Norman modified the English version of the map with the addition of the Liberty Tree on the Common, and also made a some changes to the wharves. First published in London in 1780, An Impartial History was reprinted in Boston (in three parts) between 1781 and 1784.

Born in England, John Norman (1748–1817) began his career as an engraver and publisher in Philadelphia around 1774, and moved to Boston in 1781. One of his first projects in Boston was to produce the engravings for An Impartial History, which included the present map along with portraits of important American figures. While in Boston, Norman was a partner in the Boston Magazine and served as an engraver for the publication. Regarded as one of the most important American map and chart makers of the late eighteenth century, Norman was subsequently involved in important cartographic projects such as Matthew Clark’s sea atlas; Norman’s own 1791 American Pilot (perhaps his best known work); and also partnered with Osgood Carleton in 1798 to publish the first official maps of Massachusetts and Maine. Norman died in Boston in 1817.

A scarce and important Revolutionary War battle plan.

REFERENCES: Wheat & Brun, 241; Boston Engineering Department, List of Maps of Boston Published Subsequent to 1600 (1904 ed.), p. 27; Nebenzahl, 32; Stauffer, American Engravers Upon Copper and Steel, 2360.

CONDITION: A good, strong impression; remargined at top edge, expert repairs on verso to a few weak areas, light foxing and soiling, printed close to the edge of the bottom of the sheet with consequent absence of lower neatline.

Item #5531

Price: $6,500.00

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