A CHART OF DELAWAR[E] BAY WITH SOUNDINGS AND NAUTICAL OBSERVATIONS TAKEN BY CAPT. SIR ANDREW SNAPE HAMMOND OF THE NAVY AND OTHERS COMPOSED AND PUBLISHED FOR THE USE OF PILOTAGE...
by Des Barres, Joseph F. Wallet
London: Published by J. F. W. Des Barres in "The Atlantic Neptune,", 1779. Black and white copper engraving. Plate size: 30 1/4 x 22 1/8 inches. Large repaired tear (12 inches) from bottom edge, parallel to centerfold. 4- inch repaired split from bottom in centerfold. Thin, uneven margins. Else very good. This is a fantastic sea chart of the Delaware coast from THE ATLANTIC NEPTUNE, which is universally recognized as one of the most magnificent atlases ever made. Constructed for the use of the British Navy, this chart shows the major part of the Delaware coast, from Rehobeth to Bombay Hook, as well as the opposing south New Jersey shore. Des Barres, of Swiss-Huguenot extraction, studied under the great mathematician, Daniel Bernoulli, at the University of Basel, before immigrating to Britain where he trained at the Royal Military College, Woolwich. Upon the outbreak of hostilities with France in 1756, he joined the British Royal American Regiment as a military engineer. He came to the attention of General James Wolfe, who appointed him to join his personal detail. During this period he also worked with legendary future explorer James Cook on a monumental chart of the St. Lawrence River. From 1762, Des Barres was enlisted to survey the coastlines of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while his colleague, Samuel Holland, charted the New England coast. He also managed to gain access to some surveys of the American South, Cuba, and Jamaica. In 1774, Des Barres returned to England where he began work on THE ATLANTIC NEPTUNE. His dedication to the project was so strong, that often at his own expense he continually updated and added new charts and views up until 1784. That year he returned to Canada, where he remained for a further forty years, becoming a senior political figure and a wealthy land owner, and living to the advanced age of 103. THE ATLANTIC NEPTUNE, the most celebrated sea atlas, contains the first systematic survey of the east coast of North America. Des Barres' synergy of great empirical accuracy with the peerless artistic virtue of his aquatint views, created a work that "has been described as the most splendid collection of charts, plates and views ever published" (NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM CATALOGUE). Upon the conclusion of the Seven Years' War, Britain's empire in North America was greatly expanded, and this required the creation of a master atlas featuring new and accurate sea charts for use by the Royal Navy. Des Barres was charged with this Herculean task, publishing the first volume in London in 1775, which was soon followed by three further volumes. Des Barres' monumental endeavor eventually featured over 200 charts and views, many being found in several states. His charts were immensely detailed, featuring both hydrographical and topographical information, and in many cases remained the most authoritative maps of the regions covered for several decades. SNYDER, CITY OF INDEPENDENCE, p.271. (Inventory #: WRCAM39578)
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