A Mapp of the Sommer Islands Once Called the Bermudas, c. 1627-1631

A Mapp of the Sommer Islands Once Called the Bermudas Mappa Aestivarum Insularum alias Bermudas dictarum, c. 1627-1631
Abraham Goos, Author
black and white engraving, double sided, text on verso
Professionally conserved
original center fold, reinforced on verso with mulberry tissue, small marginal tear repaired with thin mulberry tissue on verso, two pin holes pulp filled
16.5 × 21.5 inches
Sale Status: 
For Sale

This 17th century map of the Sommer Islands, engraved in Amsterdam and importantly published in England "to be sold by George Humble in Pops-head Alley" is the early, rare edition that lists the names of the island's original English settlers and shows their houses, a castle, a church and other buildings throughout the settled lots. A miniature image of the Bermuda islands appears below the map title block where the title and accompanying text is written in both English and Latin. Two engraved shields decorate the lower corners, one showing the embattled ship bound for Virginia, and the other with a seal of Virginia. The scale of distance is also in English and Latin to measure the sailing distance from Bermuda to Virginia, New England and Hispaniola in English miles.  Two double masted ships are shown sailing north from Bermuda to each of these destinations. The map is black and white, as published.

The English text on the map's verso explains the unintended English discovery of the Bermuda islands by Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Sommers, whose ship the Sea Venture  failed to reach Virginia and almost sank before those on board made their way to safety  to the island where they found "...no people, nor any kinde of cattell, except those Hogs, and a few wilde Cats which in likelihood had swoom a-shore out of some Ship cast away upon the coast and there encreased...."

At the bottom of the map and one of its major historical components is a key that correlated each numbered lot and the land shares held by each of the first land owners on the island. Thus this map is the first printed directory of European settlers of Bermuda. A note next to this chart explains the land holdings are set forth in a book that contains a survey of the island.

New England is shown in the upper right hand corner of the map and also called Nova Anglia. Virginia is shown and named in the top left corner.  The Sommer Islands were seen by the English at this time as the stepping stone to English settlements in North America, especially Virginia and New England.

At the bottom of the map is text "viz. this year 1622"  explaining how "About midsomer 1616, fiver persons departed from these Ilands in a Smal open boat of some 3 tunn and after 7 weeks arrived al safe in Ireland, like hath Scarce bene heard of in any age."

A pale ghost of the compass rose is seen on the left side of the folding map sheet. Most likely the publisher folded the newly printed map (in 1627) before the ink was completely dry. The compass rose thereafter left a faint ink impression on the opposite side of the folded map sheet. The map is both a pictorial and textual description of the early history of Bermuda. This edition of the map of Bermuda is the basis for subsequent English maps of Bermuda.

Item Type Taxonomy: 
Geographic Scope: 
The Back Room
Published Location Freeform: 
For Sale in London