Boston Public Library

View the Exhibition Part Two: Eastern Seaboard of Colonial America

The period following the French and Indian War (1754-1763) was a time of change and discovery in North America. In this display of charts, views, and maritime objects, we look at the decade following the war, when Britain set out to accurately chart the coast and survey the inland areas of their new resource-rich empire in Atlantic Canada, as well as the eastern seaboard extending from New England to the West Indies. The resulting charts were published collectively by Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres in The Atlantic Neptune, a maritime atlas which set the standard for nautical charting for nearly half a century.

Part two of the exhibition, showing August 1st through November 3, focuses geographically on the eastern seaboard from New England to the West Indies. Maps and views of major port cities along the coast will be included, as well as inland areas. These charts were produced just in time for use by the British Navy, as the American Revolutionary War was beginning.

The development of nautical chart making is described throughout the exhibition, and is illustrated in a number of examples. We will also consider the artistic marvel that is The Atlantic Neptune, and discuss the processes involved in the production of such an atlas, from surveying to engraving.

Printable gallery guide

Click on the thumbnails below to view the maps.

George Grierson
A Chart of the Sea Coast of New Found Land…, 1749
Henry Popple
A Map of the British Empire in America…, 1733
J.F.W. Des Barres
Detail from A View of Portsmouth in Piscataqua River, 1781
J.F.W. Des Barres
Chart of Plymouth Bay, 1781
J.F.W. Des Barres
A Plan of the Town of Newport in the Province of Rhode Island, 1781
J.F.W. Des Barres
Falmouth Harbour, 1777 [1st state]
J.F.W. Des Barres
Falmouth Harbour, 1777 [2nd state]
John Gerar William De Brahm
Chart of the South End of East Florida, and Martiers, 1772
J.F.W. Des Barres
Port Royal in South Carolina, 1777
J.F.W. Des Barres
A Chart of Montego Bay…, 1780
J.F.W. Des Barres
The Coast of New England, 1781
United Kingdom Hydrographic Office
Bay of Fundy to Block Island, 1887. Updated to 2013
J.F.W. Des Barres
[Coast of New England from Chatham Harbor to Narragansett Bay], 1781
Below the Boat
Martha’s Vineyard, 2012
Below the Boat
Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, 2012
J.F.W. Des Barres
[Five views of New York and approaches], 1777
J.F.W. Des Barres
A Chart of New York Harbour…, 1779
Mark Tiddeman
A draught of New York from the Hook to New York Town , 1737