A monumental multi-volume atlas comprising the cartographic works of Sayer and Bennett from the library of a captain in the last Spanish "Treasure Fleet" of 1776, including a previously unrecorded edition of Bernard Romans' map of Florida.
By SAYER, Robert, BENNETT, John, and JEFFERYS, Thomas, et al. , 1780

[Composite Atlas].

  • Author: SAYER, Robert, BENNETT, John, and JEFFERYS, Thomas, et al.
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: R. Sayer and J. Bennett, Map and Print-Sellers, No.53 Fleet Street.
  • Publication date: 1780-1783
  • Physical description: Eleven works bound in five volumes, folio (four volumes 560 by 410mm; East India Pilot 645 by 540mm). A composite atlas incorporating 329 mapsheets, several small nicks, tears, and worm traces throughout all skilfully in-filled with paper-pulp repairs, all five volumes bound in contemporary calf decorated with a simple gilt foliate roll-tool border, rebacked, spine in 7 compartments (8 for East India Pilot) separated by raised bands with red-morocco lettering piece in the second compartment, East India Pilot with original gilt-lettered black morocco title label inlaid on upper cover, each volume with the gilt-lettered red-morocco bookplate of 'Don. Domingo Marroquin' to front paste-down.
  • Inventory reference: 1610


A spectacular composite atlas with superb American content published in the year of The Treaty of Paris, and the end of the American Revolutionary War. The atlas contains nearly the complete engraved cartographic works of the London publisher’s Sayer and Bennett, including a previously unrecorded first state of a map of Florida by Bernard Romans and Willem Gerrard de Brahm, the first British chart of Hong Kong, Sayer and Bennett’s East India Pilot, and both parts of the scarce North American Pilot.

Each volume of the atlas bears the bookplate of one “Don Domingo Marroquín”. This is, presumably, Don Domingo Gutiérrez Marroquín (1736-1795), merchant captain of the Navio “Nuestra Senore del Buen Consejo” (alias “Placeres”) in the last Spanish “Flota de Indias”, or “Treasure Fleet” of 1776. The Spanish treasure fleet was a convoy system adopted by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1776. The convoys were general purpose cargo fleets used for transporting a wide variety of items, including silver, gold, gems, pearls, spices, Chinese porcelain, sugar, tobacco, silk, and other exotic goods from the East Indies, to the Spanish Empire in the Americas and then, once a year, to Spain.


Volume One

1. KITCHIN, Thomas.

A General Alas Describing the Whole Universe being a Complete and New Collection of The Most Improved Maps Extant…

London, Printed and Sold by R. Sayer and J. Bennett, Map, Chart and Print-sellers, No. 53, Fleet Street, 1782.

Engraved title and 23 double-page and folding engraved maps on 35 mapsheets, outline hand-colour, several folding.

Shirley Atlas T.SAY-2d (A General Atlas)

2. D’ANVILLE, Jean Bapitiste Bourguignon.
A Complete Body of Ancient Geography…

London, Printed and Sold by R. Sayer and J. Bennett, Map and Print Sellers in Fleet-Street, 1775.

Engraved title, and 13 mapsheets (12 double-page), hand-coloured in outline.

Shirley Atlas T.ANV-4a (A Complete Body of Ancient Geography).

‘The General Atlas’ contains 15 maps that, if joined, would form large scale wall maps: ‘Asia and its Islands’ (on three folding sheets, ranging from the Arctic regions in the north, down through Russia, Indonesia and Australia) would measure approximately 56 x 46 inches if assembled. The remaining maps on two folding sheets would all be approximately 40 x 46 inches if joined: these include three maps of American interest: ‘A new map of the whole continent of America’; ‘A new map of North America, with the West India Islands’; and ‘A map of South America’. The remaining areas that are covered by large scale maps are ‘A general map of the World’; England & Wales; Scotland; Ireland; the Netherlands; Germany; Hindoostan; Bengal, Bahar, etc; Delhi, Agrah, Oude and Allahabad.

This atlas was originally created by Thomas Kitchin. Sayer and Bennett first published the work in 1773 (and, therefore, Sayer’s first terrestrial atlas). The maps are based on the work of a variety of mapmakers and surveyors: Thomas Kitchin, Thomas Jefferys, John Rocque, Robert Campbell, John Armstrong, John Roberts, L. S. d’Arcy Delarochette, James Rennell, Andrew Dury, Thomas Pownall and Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville. Also included is the information gathered as a result of the important Pacific voyages of Captain James Cook, George Vancouver, and Jean Francois Galaup de La Perouse.

Volume Two

3. JEFFERYS, Thomas
The American Atlas; or, a Geographical Description of the Whole Continent of America; Wherein are Delineated at Large its Several Regions, Countries, States, and Islands; and Chiefly the British Colonies…

London: Printed and sold by R. Sayer and J. Bennett, 1778.
Engraved title, contents and 23 engraved maps on 30 mapsheets.

The very rare 1778 issue of ‘The American Atlas’: the most important eighteenth century atlas for the fledgling state, and an irreplaceable snapshot of the land as it was during the birth of the United States. Walter Ristow describes it as a “geographical description of the whole continent of America, as portrayed in the best available maps in the latter half of the eighteenth century… as a major cartographic reference work it was, very likely, consulted by American, English, and French civilian administrators and military officers during the Revolution.”

As a collection, the American Atlas stands as the most comprehensive, detailed and accurate survey of the American colonies at the beginning of the Revolution. Many of the elements that make up the American Atlas came into being as a result of the British need to understand the geographic and social layout of their colonies after their victory in the French and Indian War of 1756-1763. The maps that resulted from the numerous surveys were to prove to be by far the best contemporary records of the region.

Among these distinguished maps are; Braddock Meade’s ‘A Map of the Most Inhabited Parts of New England’, the largest and most detailed map of New England that had yet been published; a map of ‘The Provinces of New York and New Jersey’ by Samuel Holland, the Surveyor general for the northern American colonies; William Scull’s ‘A Map of Pennsylvania’, the first map of that colony to include its western frontier; Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson’s ‘A Map of the Most Inhabited part of Virginia’, the best colonial map for the Chesapeake region; and Lt. Ross’s ‘Course of the Mississipi’, the first map of that river based on English sources.

Cf. Howes J-81; cf. Phillips Atlases 1165 and 1166; cf. Sabin 35953; cf. Streeter Sale I, 72 (1775 edition); cf. Walter Ristow (editor) Thomas Jefferys The American Atlas London 1776, facsimile edition, Amsterdam 1974.

4. SAYER, Robert, BENNET, John, publishers, and JEFFERYS, Thomas,
The North-American Pilot for Newfoundland, Labradore, the Gulf and River St.Laurence: Being a collection of Sixty Accurate Charts and Plans, drawn from the original surveys: taken by James Cook and Michael Lane, Surveyors, and Joseph Gilbert, and other Officers in the King’s Service. [Part the first]

London: R. Sayer & J. Bennett, 1779.

Copy of Captain Cook’s letter facing the title, 1p. dedication to Palliser, 2pp. Index of charts. 22 engraved charts.

5. SAYER, Robert, BENNET, John, publishers, and JEFFERYS, Thomas,
(Part the Second). The North-American Pilot for New England, New York, Pensilvania, Maryland, and Virginia; also the Two Carolinas, and Florida. Drawn from the Original Surveys, taken by Capt. John Gascoigne, Joshua Fisher, Jacob Blamey, and other officers and pilots in his Majesty’s service.

London: R. Sayer & J. Bennett, 1783.

10 double-page or folding engraved charts.

An incredible American cartographic rarity: the complete North American Pilot, including Captain James Cook’s monumental surveys of Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the most important coastal charts of America at the start of the Revolution, including Anthony Smith’s famed chart of the Chesapeake.

The first part of the North American Pilot comprises the most thorough and detailed mapping of the Canadian territory ceded to Great Britain at the end of the French and Indian war. Surveys of the region were immediately ordered, as the waterways were deemed of vital economic importance to the inland fur trade. Selected for the task were James Cook and Michael Lane. “The charting of Newfoundland and southern Labrador by Cook, in the years 1763-7, and by his successor Michael Lane, in 1768-73, was unequalled, for thoroughness and method, by any previous hydrographic work by Englishmen; and it produced the first charts of this extensive and difficult coastline that could (in the words of a later hydrographer) ‘with any degree of safety be trusted by the seaman'” (Skelton & Tooley). For Cook, his accomplishment led directly to his being commissioned to the Endeavour, launching his reputation as the greatest maritime explorer of his age, and perhaps of all time. Cook’s charts were first published in 1769 (under the title A Collection of Charts, but containing only 10 maps); in 1775, they were republished with additions by Jefferys within the first part of the North American Pilot. Present here is the third edition of the first part of the North American Pilot, containing the full complement of charts, with additions updating information on the eve of the Revolution. All editions are rare.

In 1776, shortly after news of American Independence reached Great Britain, the publishers Sayer and Bennett issued a second part to their previously published North American Pilot, to encompass the coastline of the American colonies. The maps issued here include famed cartographic productions by John Gascoigne, Joshua Fisher, Anthony Smith and others. Many maps include additions reflecting the early battles of the war (such as, the plan of Charlestown, showing the attack on Fort Sullivan). This second part of the North American Pilot was first published in 1776, and subsequently reissued in 1777 and, as here, in 1783. Copies of part the second are rarely found accompanying part the first.

Beddie 1938; Howes J84; Phillips, Atlases 1209; Sabin 55557; Skelton & Tooley, “The Marine Surveys of James
Cook in North America” 15 in Tooley, The Mapping of America.

Volume Three

6. JEFFERYS [Thomas].
The West India Atlas or, A Compendious Description of the West-Indies; Illustrated with Forty Correct Charts and Maps, Taken from Actual Surveys. Together with An Account of the Several Countries and Islands which compose that part of the World: Their discovery, situation, extent, boundaries, product, trade, inhabitants, strength, government, religion &c. By the Late Thomas Jefferys, Geographer to the King.

London, Printed for Robert Sayer and John Bennett, Fleet Street, 1780 [–1782].

Engraved frontispiece, title page and dedication, i-iv, 27pp. introduction, index of charts, 40 charts (37 of them double-page).

The atlas, first published in 1778, was designed to aid the highly lucrative sugar trade, which by this point accounted for around one-fifth of all imports to Europe, eighty percent of which was supplied by French and British colonies in the West Indies. Unfortunately, Europe’s insatiable desire for sugar drove a viler – although no less lucrative – trade: that of the trafficking of slaves from the west coast of Africa to the Caribbean plantations. It is estimated that by the time the atlas was published, some 400,000 enslaved people were at work in the British Caribbean colonies.

The introduction to the atlas gives details of its genesis (“This work unites the Atlas and pilot for the West-Indies, shewing both the Geographic and Hydrographic parts”), as well as notes on the sources of the individual maps. This is then followed by 23 pages of text on the West Indies, the Islands, and the industries that they support, including an early polemic against the slave trade. The charts themselves are divided into three parts. The first part, which contains six charts, is designed to give information to a navigator wishing to sail from England to the West Indies, starting with a map of the English Channel, then a general Atlantic chart, followed by more detailed charts of the Azores, the Canaries, the Cape Verde Islands, and Bermuda. The second section is made up of an index map of the West Indies, followed by 16 detailed charts that could be joined to form a single large chart detailing the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The third section contains 17 maps of individual islands or island groups.

Unfortunately, Thomas Jefferys would not live to see the publication of his ‘West Indian Atlas’, and it was left to Robert Sayer who, in partnership with John Bennett, acquired his materials and published the atlas posthumously under Jefferys’ name. The work was evidently a commercial success as there were five subsequent editions under the Sayer and Bennett imprint. In 1794 an expanded and modified version with 61 plates was published under Sayer’s sole imprint. In the same year Laurie & Whittle acquired Sayer’s plates, and they published a further version with the same title page, but with their imprint.

Gestetner, David, ‘Thomas Jefferys: The West India Atlas, 1775’, Map Forum, Issue 8, 2005, pp. 30–35. State 3. Shirley Atlas M.JEF-4e (The West India Atlas)

Volume Four

Manuscript contents leaf and 83 engraved maps on 67 mapsheets, many double-page and folding:

A composite atlas comprising a world map, a chart of the Mediterranean (c.f. Shirley, Atlases M.SAY-3a map 110), a chart of the “Southern or Antarctic Hemisphere” (c.f. Shirley, Atlases M.SAY-3a map 110), and the maps, but not the title pages from:

7. [SAYER, Robert and BENNETT, John].
[The New Baltic Pilot; Being a Collection of Charts… from England to the Cattegat, the Baltic, and the Gulf of Finland in Sixteen Sheets…]

9 double-page engraved mapsheets, two folding.

[London, 1783]

c.f.Shirley, Atlases, M.SAY-5a

We have only been able to trace one example of this work having been offered for sale at auction in the past 30 years (Sotheby’s 11/16/2005 £4500).

8. [SAYER, Robert and BENNETT, John].
[The Channel Pilot Comprehending the Harbours, Bays, and Roads, in the British Channel: with the English and French Coasts, from the Thames Mouth to the Bay of Biscay, including the North Sea… By John Stephenson and Geoerge Burn… and other Experienced Navigators…].

[London, 1783]

c.f.Shirley, Atlases, M.SAY-6a


9. [SAYER, Robert and BENNETT, John].
[The Coasting Pilot for Great-Britain and Ireland; done From Actual Surveys and Observations by Capt. Joseph Huddart, George Burn, a Master of the Royal Navy, James Grosvenor, a Trinity-House Pilot; and Many other Navigators. The whole engraved on Thirty-Six Copper-Plates, with sailing directions on the charts].

[London, 1783]

33 charts and “A circular New and Correct Tide-Table” (lacking volvelle).

c.f.Shirley, Atlases, M.SAY-7a

The maps in the “Channel Pilot” and the “Coasting Pilot” have a great deal of over-lapping coverage. The present work omits maps that chart areas covered by other maps within the atlas. Further, many of the maps present here have titles that differ from those listed in the British Library’s holdings as catalogued by Shirley.

10. [SAYER, Robert and BENNETT, John].
[A New and Accurate Chart of the West-India Islands and Coast… together with Forty New Plans… of the Chief Ports, Bays, Roads, and Harbours, on the Spanish Main, the Floridas, Jamaica, Hispaniola, St. Domingo, the Island of Cuba and Porto Rico…]

[London, 1783]

Large engraved chart on four sheets, joined as two, and 40 engraved maps and harbour plans on 20 single-page engraved mapsheets.

c.f. Shirley, Atlases, M.SAY-4a

In the three other examples of Sayer and Bennett’s “A New and Accurate Chart of the West-India Islands” that we have been able to identify (British Library, University of Virginia, Yale), the large chart at the beginning is the two-sheet “A new general chart of the West-Indies, from the latest marine journals and surveys” However, the present atlas has, in its place, a monumental four-sheet chart as follows:

ROMANS, Bernard and DE BRAHM, Willem Gerrard.
A New Chart of the Gulf Passage from Cape Antonio in the Isle of Cuba to the 30th Degree of North Latitude in the Ocean, through The Gulf of Florida, or New Channel of Baham; with an Exact Delineation of the Islands, Shoals, and Reefs on the Coasts of East Florida, as well as of the Northern Shores of Cuba, and the Bahama Banks and Islands: in which is also included The Old Channel of Bahama From the Large Survey taken by the Order of Government by B. Romans compared with the Spanish Charts and Surveys and Ascertained by the Astronomic Observations of Wm. Gerrard de Brahm, Surveyor General for the Southern District of North America and Others.

London, Printed by Robert Sayer and John Bennett, Map and Chartsellers, No. 53 Fleet Street, as the Act Directs, March the 1st 1779.

We can find record of no other example of this chart with this title. However, it would appear that it is an earlier, previously unrecorded, state of a map with a different title in the University of Florida’s book “Roman’s Gulf and Windward Pilot” (Robert Laurie and James Whittle, London, 1794) which is, itself, the only known example. Both maps are based on Bernard Romans’ famous survey of Florida, the sole surviving printed example of which is one of the treasures of the map and atlas division at the Library of Congress. The original manuscript, some 21 ft in length, is held at the National Archives in Kew, London.

The University of Florida map is, perhaps best known for the legend which appears by the St. Sebastian River, just to the South of Cape Canaveral: “Opposite this River Perished the Admiral of the Plate Fleet in 1715. The Rest of the Fleet 14 in number were lost between this and the Beach Yard”. In 1961, and on the basis of this information, Kip Wagner, Mel Fisher and the Real Eight Corporation located 8 submerged wrecks from the fleet, and recovered some $4 million in gold, silver, and other artefacts: at that point the largest salvage haul in history and only superseded by recovery of the ‘Nuestra Señora de Atocha’ in 1985 by the same team.

Volume 5

11. SAYER, Robert and BENNETT, John.
The Complete East-India Pilot, or Oriental Navigator… For The Navigation Not Only of the Indian and China Seas, with those of New Holland, but also of the Seas between the British Isles and the Cape of Good Hope…

London, Printed for Robert Sayer and John Bennett, Fleet Street, [c.1780].

2 printed titles and index sheets, 108 engraved charts (some folding or double-page).

cf. Phillips Atlases 3169 (102 maps) and 4069 (87 maps); cf. Shirley, British Library M.SAY-3a (111 maps)

This, the first edition of this collection of charts appeared in approximately 1780, and incorporated the work of Apres de Mannevillette and Alexander Dalrymple.

We have only been able to identify six examples of this work selling at auction since World War II (Christies 2007 – $172,000, Sotheby’s 2006 – £94,000, Sotheby’s 1978 – £500, Sotheby’s 1967 – £336, Sotheby’s 1947 – £24, Sotheby’s 1946 – £14)

The East-India Pilot was intended to provide accurate charts for navigating all the coasts which might be encountered between England and the East Indies. Also included were charts for navigating between England and the Cape of Good Hope. Combining sources from earlier Dutch and English atlases, The East-India Pilot, or Oriental Navigator went through numerous editions with varying complements of maps. The maps include those of the African coast, Rio de Janiero on the coast of Brazil, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, India, Bengal, Singapore, Malabar, Sumatra, Java, Batavia, Borneo, China and Japan.

The chart of the Canton River, here appearing in its second state is the earliest printed British Maritime Chart to show Hong Kong. The map also includes a fascinating depiction of Hong Kong Island divided into two islands.

We are grateful for the assistance of James Cusick, Curator, P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History, George A. Smathers Library, University of Florida in cataloguing this item.

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