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1863 Valentine Issue of the 1668 Nicolls Map of Manhattan, New York City


The Nicolls Map.
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Title:    The Nicolls Map.

Description:    An attractive example of D. T. Valentine and George Hayward's 1863 reissue of the 1668 Nichols Plan or Map of Manhattan and New York City. When the english conquered New Amsterdam in 1664, they were ill equipped to administer their new colony - renamed New York after James, the Duke of York. The english New York's first governor, Richard Nicolls, commissioned the first reasonably accurate survey of Manhattan and New York. The survey covers from the northernmost tip of Manhattan to Staten Island and incorporates parts of Long Island, modern day Westchester, and New Jersey.

The survey was most likely produced for use abroad by King Charles I and his colonial administrators. This is suggested by various textual elements on the map, such as the identification of New Jersey and Westchester as 'Parte of the Continent of America' and an annotation in the lower left quadrant offering distances between various known points, such as Albany and Nayack (Naick Point). This in formation would no doubt have been useful in europe, where the geography of the American continent, even amongst royals, was only vaguely understood. This is also the first map to identify the separate settlement of New Harlem, founded by the Dutch in 1659. Seeing this map, Governor Nicolls decided that New York would include the entire island of Manhattan, this incorporating Harlem into the colony.

The inset map, present in the upper right quadrant offers the first usage of the term 'New York' on a map. The plan, covering New York south of modern day Wall Street, offers a militant view of the city, showing the fortifications and batteries built as a defense against potential future invaders, most likely the Dutch or French. Broad St. is identified and of course, would evolve into Broadway. Some expansion and landfill is notable on the east River.

The original manuscript version of this map is preserved in the British Library. In 1862 George H. Moore, on a visit to england requested a copy in manuscript be produced. Richard Sims, then head of the British Library Manuscript Department, fulfilled the request. The map was subsequently gifted to the New York Historical Society and published by City Clerk D. T. Valentine in his 1863 Valentine's Manual. This is thus the first published example of this rare map and, for most New Yorkers, the first opportunity to examine this remarkable early British map of their city. The map proved to be of considerable interest to the New York public and was subsequently reissued several times in the 1890s by Dunreath Publishing and e. C. Bridgeman.


Date:    1862 (dated)

Source:    Valentine, D. T., Manual of the Corporation of the City of New-York, (New York) 1863.    

References:    Haskell, D., Manhattan Maps A Co-operative List, 100. Augustyn, R. T., Cohen, P., Manhattan in Maps 1527 - 1995, 44-45. Stokes, I. N. P., The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909, v. 1, p. 210-12.

Cartographer:    Throughout much of the 19th century David T. Valentine edited and published a series of New York City almanacs and fact books entitled Manual of the Corporation Of The City of New York. Valentine's Manual, as it came to be called, included facts about the City of New York, city council information, city history, and reported on the progress of public works such as Central Park. The production of this annual manual was the responsibility of the Clerk of the City of New York, a position held at different times by D. Valentine by Joseph Shannon, who also produced a similar manual. Valentine used his manual to reproduce some of the rarest and most important maps of New York City ever created. Click here for a list of rare maps by David T. Valentine.

Size:   Printed area measures 53 x 18 inches (134.62 x 45.72 centimeters)

Condition:    Good. Issued in three parts, joined and backed on archival tissue. Contemporary hand color.

Code:   NewYorkCityNicollsMap-valentine-1863 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)


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