Published as part of the Atlantic Neptune Folio by JFW Des Barres, this 1781 chart covers an important area of the coastline of Massachusetts, depicting the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, south of Cape Cod.
J.F.W. Des Barres & Lt John Knight
- h31" x w44"
- Nantucket was, from the 1760s, one of the major centers of the whaling trade in North America and this historic chart from J.F.W. Des Barres' Atlantic Neptune shows the harbor and town of Nantucket, the lighthouse and several homesteads. Also shown is the Eastern end of Martha's Vineyard. The nautical soundings and remarks were made by Lieut. John Knight, who includes sailing directions as required by the seaman of the time. Knight worked closely with the land-survey teams throughout the 1770s and was himself to rise to the rank of Admiral. The land survey was completed by George Sproule, likely supported by Charles Blaskowitz. The significance of the Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Cape Cod and the surrounding waters during the Revolutionary War was immense as they lay between the British Naval base at Halifax and New York. In addition to the fishing and whaling industries which were based in the region it was also an area of strategic naval interest with American coastal vessels and fishermen reporting the comings and goings of the British. Clearly marked on Nantucket is a 'Pest House' which at the time was a hospital or hostel used for persons afflicted with communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, or smallpox. It would have been used for forcible quarantine, and was generally sited close to a cemetery or a waste pond for disposal of the dead. The cartography also includes details such as rope walks (a long straight narrow lane, or a covered pathway, where long strands of material were laid before being twisted into rope), churches, roads and settlement lots on Martha's Vineyard. The edition presented here is taken from a 'pull' (print) made by the British Admiralty in about 1947 from Des Barres' original copper plates, before the plates were presented to the US government. The result is that we are presented with an authentic view of what the charts of the Atlantic Neptune would have looked like when they were originally made. The chart was originally published in two parts.
- Nantucket Island and part of Martha's Vineyard