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    Sale 2272

    Fine Books & Manuscripts including Americana

    24 June 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 121

    WASHINGTON, George. Autograph manuscript topographical map of Mount Vernon on the Potomac River and its surroundings, captioned on verso by Washington "Sketch of the Roads & Country between Little Hunting Creek and Colchester," n.p., [Mount Vernon?], n.d. [before 1769].

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    WASHINGTON, George. Autograph manuscript topographical map of Mount Vernon on the Potomac River and its surroundings, captioned on verso by Washington "Sketch of the Roads & Country between Little Hunting Creek and Colchester," n.p., [Mount Vernon?], n.d. [before 1769].

    1 page, 18¼ x 13 in., in ink on heavy English-made paper ("Pro patria" watermark). Washington has used small bits of red sealing wax to affix a narrow strip of paper, extending the sheet at bottom edge. In very fine condition.

    WASHINGTON MAPS MOUNT VERNON AND ITS SURROUNDINGS

    What would later become the best-known home in America and a national shrine is represented on this large-format map by a small, carefully inked rectangle facing the Potomac, labeled by its owner: "Mount Vernn." It was a part of the original 5,000 acre tract of land granted in 1674/75 to Col. Nicholas Spencer and Lt. Col. John Washington. By 1743, when Lawrence Washington named his portion "Mount Vernon," it comprised about 2,650 acres. Title passed to his half-brother George Washington in 1752. "It was only natural for the new master of Mount Vernon to cherish the hope that some day the boundaries of his estate would be rounded out to conform to the original lines of the 5,000-acre Spencer-Washington grant....No opportunity would be overlooked which would serve to enlarge Mount Vernon...." (D.S. Freeman, George Washington, vol.6, Appendix VI-1, "Growth of the Mount Vernon Tract," p.388). Between 1757 and 1786, Washington added a total of 5,601 acres to his Mount Vernon estate, mainly by the purchase of adjoining tracts.Washington was a skilled map-maker, having been granted in 1747 a commission from William & Mary College as Culpepper County surveyor. Some authorities estimate that in the period 1747 to 1799 Washington personally surveyed nearly 200 land parcels. This representation of the greater Mount Vernon area is difficult to date, but was certainly drawn before 1769, as it shows the 200-acre homestead of Captain John Posey, east of Mount Vernon, which Washington purchased in that year.

    This unique "sketch map" locates important geographical features, including a dozen rivers and creeks like Little Hunting Creek, the Occoquan River, Dogue Run, Pohick Creek and Sandy Run. The only sizeable settlement, the town of Colchester, is cross-hatched in the left-hand portion. Two roads drawn in dotted lines extend from Mount Vernon south, intersecting one labeled "Road from Alexandria to Colchester," and "Rolling Road." Washington locates and labels some 20 estates of his neighbors near and far; these include Belvoir, just east of Mount Vernon, the manor of Thomas Fairfax (1693-1781), proprietor of Virginia's Northern Neck. Also indicated is "Washington's Mill" with its "pond"; and the nearby homesteads of Captain McCarty, Thomas Kirkby and Col. Mason. Further away are a cluster of homes belonging to Mathew Sparrow, Edward Grimes, Col. H.J. Fitzhugh, Ephriam Dickens Fitzhugh, William Payne and a mill belonging to Andrew Allan; toward the top are the seats of "Jno. Monroe," Phillip Sewall, Mrs. Hunter, Jacob Hubbard, and, at the extreme upper edge, "Difficult Run" and a "Mill Pond."

    In a six-line note at the top center, Washington has carefully recorded, as a surveyor would, key distances between landmarks, calculating distances "From the Ford of Doeg Run at A to the Ford of Accatinck," "to the Rolling Road leading to the ware[houses]," and "to Pohick Church." Beneath he records distances "From Colchester to the Ford of Accotinck," to the Rolling Road and to the Church. This may furnish a clue as to the inended use of the map: to show roads connecting important localities necessary for the transport of farm commodities.


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