St Andrews is a proud owner of a complete copy of the Popple Atlas, or Henry Popple’s A map of the British Empire in America. We’ve chosen this atlas for this 4th of July post because it is the first large-scale map of North America, and it is truly a beauty to behold.
Henry Popple, working for the Board of Trade and Plantations in London, produced this map so that it could be displayed in all public offices in all of the colonies. Popple enlisted the work of artist Clement Lemprière and engravers Bernard Baron and W.H. Toms for this mammoth undertaking, and some of the maps were hand-coloured. Not only does this map provide an accurate reference for the British, French and Spanish territories of the time, but it also provides a wonderful tool for contemporary place names, early charting of rivers and waterways and engraved views of many cities and ports.
This map, printed in 20 sheets, was issued in three formats: single sheets, as a bound atlas, or mounted as a wall map on linen. The bound atlas was also issued with a key sheet, showing how all the single sheets were put together, which is retained in the St Andrews copy.
We’ve included each individual sheet in this post at high-resolution, available below; see if you can find a name that you recognize!
When mounted together as a wall map it measured 2.5 metres high by 2.3 metres long, an impressive map to see even today!