The charts and maps in this section recount the significance of the islands of the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda to both Europe and America throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries mainly due to the island production of rum, spices and sugar. The American struggle throughout the War of Independence was fuelled by several Caribbean islands in particular which provided illicit trade and supply through the southern mainland ports.
Historically the Bahamas had been overlooked by pretty much every seafaring nation that ever landed upon them from the Spanish under Christopher Columbus to the British, French, Dutch and all others who seemingly had their eye on the main prize, mainland America. The Abaco Islands in the late 18th and early 19th centuries is one far removed from our modern view of these beautiful islands as places and resorts of leisure.
Having entered into military conflict with the13 mainland American colonies in 1766 Britain was conscious of the need to maintain a post in the mid-atlantic which was the gateway to both the Caribbean and to mainland America for both economic and military purposes. From 1783 onwards, Bermuda was thus assured a significant role in the reasurgance of British power across the globe. Our Bermudian collection includes some of the most significant maps and charts of the Islands ever produced including the colossal Thomas Hurd survey of 1788-1797 which was so accurate that it was only published in a much reduced form with very little hydrographic detail lest it should fall into American hands!
Included here are many previously unpublished surveys of the region which are not just historically fascinating but extremely artistic in their presentation.