John Smith. “Nova Virginiae Tabula.” From America. London: J. Ogilby, 1671. 11 1/2 x 13 3/4. Engraving. Very good condition.
A handsome version of John Smith’s map of Virginia issued in John Ogilby’s America in 1671. The Smith map, issued in 1612, was the first map specifically of Virginia, and as such it had a profound impact on the mapping of the colony, standing as the prototype for the region from the beginning of the seventeenth century well into its second half. This is a reduced version of the Hondius-Blaeu derivative, with an added decorative cartouche in the upper right corner. The information for this map was gathered on Smith’s exploration of the Chesapeake Bay. The results of Smith’s travels, including the location of the surrounding Indian settlements, are indicated. The three cartouches are graced by plump cherubs and examples of the flora, fauna and natives of the region.
John Ogilby (1600-1676), one of the more colorful figures associated with cartography, started life as a dancing master and finished as the King’s Cosmographer and Geographic Printer. In the course of an eventful life he built a theater in Dublin, became the Deputy Master of Revels in Ireland, translated various Greek and Latin works and built a book publishing business. In the process he twice lost all he possessed, first in a shipwreck during the Civil Wars and then in the Great Fire of London. Even this disaster he turned to advantage by being appointed to a Commission of Survey following the fire. He turned to printing again and in a few short years organized a survey of all the main post roads in the country and published the first practical road atlas. In 1671, Ogilby issued his volume on America, which included what he considered to be the best regional maps of the continent, including this Smith derivative.