A Map of The Extremity of Cape Cod, 1836

A Map of The Extremity of Cape Cod including the Townships of Provincetown and Truro, with a Chart of Their Seacoast and Cape Cod Harbour, State of Massachusetts. Executed under the direction of Major J.D. Graham U.S.Top.Engr. During portions of the years 1833, '34 & '35 U.S. Bureau of Topographical Engineers, Washington, D.C., 1836
Black and white engraving
Unrestored original condition
As found original softly rolled condition, black and white engraving by Hood on four joined, heavy paper sheets backed with original linen. The appearance of the map suggests it was in active use as a nautical chart. Toning to paper throughout, all four sheets are complete, some instances of paper damage, such as deterioration at wrinkles or small holes with related breaks in surface and two sheets partially lifted from linen backing along one seam.
57.5 × 69.5 inches
Sale Status: 
For Sale

            This monumental 1836 engraved survey of the extremity of Cape Cod showing the iconic curve of the Cape as it comes around and encloses Cape Cod Bay took three years and required 9 assistants to Major J.D. Graham U.S. Topographical Engineer in order to complete the work. This is the first government survey of the entire extremity of Cape Cod, that area of Cape Cod Bay and that portion of the Atlantic Ocean. In 1833, when the work was begun, Provincetown was an active maritime harbor and the civilian and military usefulness of this chart was considerable.

            Please see the high resolution, detail photographs that identify the nine (9) assistants to Major Graham in undertaking this three year project, the engraver, the high and low tide charts and the exceptional engraved drawing of the Town of Provincetown, Massachusetts with its buildings, piers and other features.  The engraver used black and white tones as well as outline to render the town. This chart is unusual not only for its scale but also for the graphic representation on the chart of the extensive information compiled from 1833 to 1836 on tides, ocean soundings and the shoreline survey combined with a topographic land survey that includes vegetation and a fine grained plan of Provincetown and its piers.

            The condition of this map suggests that it was well used for practical purposes. When unrolled, the sheer physicality of the map is overwhelming and by its own scale conveys a feeling for its subject – the curled arm of sand and dunes culminating at the end of Cape Cod in Provincetown, surrounded on three sides by ocean. While restored examples of this scarce map may be found, there is something historically tangible to this well used example of the map that embodies the practical nautical and oceanographic purposes for which the map was researched and drawn.

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The Back Room