SPEER, Captain Joseph Smith. The West-India Pilot: Containing Piloting Directions for Port Royal and Kingston Harbours in Jamaica, in and out Through the Kays &c. Morant Harbour, Morant Kays, Blewfields Bay, Manteca Bay and Lucia Harbour. London: For the Author and S. Hooper, 1771
Folio (16 x 10 2/8 inches). Advertisement leaf at end (lacking A2?). 26 exceptionally fine engraved folding maps all with original hand-colour in full (corners creased, one or two other creases at folds). Contemporary mottled calf, the spine in panels, each decorated with a fine gilt Dauphin crest tool.
Provenance: with the crest of Louis XVI (1754 - 1793) Dauphin of France in the decorative panels of the spine; Christie's, 15 November 1978, lot 184; bought by Charles W. Traylen, Guildford, Surrey, for the library of Christopher Henry Beaumont Pease, Lord Wardington (1924-2005), his sale 10th October 2006 lot 486.
Second edition, first published in 1766 with 13 maps, this copy inscribed and annotated "Examined and corrected by" the Author. This fine copy was possibly intended as a gift to the young Dauphin of France Louis, who was later crowned as Louis XVI. Louis XVI actively supported the Americans in their revolution against Great Britain, but who was himself executed during the French Revolution in 1793. Captain Joseph Smith Speer was an English mariner who served 21 years on the Mosquito (Miskito) Coast in what is now Nicaragua. He later created detailed maps of the West Indies based on his first-hand knowledge of the region. In 1766 he published "The West-India Pilot" containing 13 maps, followed by an enlarged edition, as here, with 26 maps in 1771.
Beginning in 1689, Britain fought a century-long series of wars with France and its ally, Spain. On three occasions prior to the French and Indian War, these hostilities spilled over into the western hemisphere where overseas colonies could provide important advantages. Britain and France competed to control the valuable fur trade on the North American mainland and the rich sugar production on the islands of the West Indies. By the end of the 17th century, the British had established flourishing colonial settlements along the Atlantic Coast in New England and in the Chesapeake Bay region. At the same time, France had founded small communities along the St. Lawrence River and had claimed the entire Mississippi River Valley, following the expeditions of French explorers Louis Joliet and René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. These North American colonies became part of an intense rivalry between Great Britain and France. Each country tried to equal or surpass the economic, political, and military power of the other through colonization, alliances, and warfare. The Treaty of Paris of 1763 concluding the Seven Years' War (including the French and Indian War), was signed by Britain and Hanover on one side and France and Spain on the other. France renounced to Britain the mainland of North America east of the Mississippi, its conquests in India since 1749, and the West Indian islands of Granada and the Grenadines. Britain restored to France the West Indian islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique and the West African colony of Gorée (Senegal). In return for recovering Havana and Manila, Spain ceded Florida to Britain and received Louisiana from the French. The fine maps in this beautiful atlas include many of Jamaica, Hispaniola, Honduras, Port O Rico, Saint Domingue, Cape Fear in North Carolina, Cuba, St. Domingo, Port au Price, and Vera CruzPhillips, Atlases 2698; Sabin 89248; Shirley, British Library M.SPR.1b.