FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN, printer (1706-1790).
A Bill in the Chancery of New-Jersey, at the Suit of John Earl of Stair, and others, Proprietors of the Eastern-Division of New-Jersey; against Benjamin Bond, and some other Persons of Elizabeth-Town.
Philadelphia: [printed by] Benjamin Franklin, 1747.
Comparable: Christie's, 2005 - $114,000.
Folio (14 x 9 inches). Printed in two columns. With 3 fine RARE folding maps by Lewis Evans and James Alexander, engraved by James Turner of Boston (some browning, small ink spot to 2d map, marginal paper flaw to Bb2) Contemporary sheep backed marbled paper boards (worn, front cover nearly detached); preserved in half red calf clamshell box. Provenance: with a receipt for three flannel waistcoats made out to the Honourable George Rushout (1772-1842) dated 1798 loosely inserted; Laird Park sale, Sotheby's New York, Nov 29, 2000, lot 102; with the signed bookplate of Bruce McKinney inside the box, his sale 2nd December 2010 lot 60. "A monumental piece of printing" (Miller). First edition, COMPLETE WITH THREE MAPS BY LEWIS EVANS INCLUDING THE FIRST GENERAL MAP OF THE MIDDLE COLONIES PUBLISHED IN AMERICA. "This exposition of the proprietors' case by James Alexander is of great subtlety and complexity and is one of the most remarkable documents of colonial times" (Streeter). The Bill relates to the long-standing dispute over land taxes in the area of Elizabeth, New Jersey between the Proprietors, who were deeded land from Carteret, and the resident settlers who had for the most part purchased their lots from the native Indians. The Proprietors' case was prepared by the Scottish lawyer, James Alexander (1691-1756) surveyor general of East and West Jersey and New York, and Attorney General for New Jersey, where he held extensive landholdings and belonged to the East Jersey Board of Proprietors. A founding member of the American Philosophical Society, the New York Library Society, and of King's College (now Columbia University) in New York, he was already famous for his representation of Peter Zenger in the first case to set a precedent for freedom of the press in America. At his death he was one of the wealthiest men in New York. The three maps prepared by celebrated cartographer and geologist Lewis Evans, whose first known map was of a small area of Pennsylvania in 1738, and corrected by James Alexander himself, are very early examples of maps published in America. They comprise: Map I., of the middle colonies from Boston Harbor to Cape Hatteras and inland to Albany, the cartouche provides a key between the English and the old Dutch names and a coloring guide; Map II., of New Jersey, also showing the Hudson and New York City; Map III., of the disputed property detailing individually numbered lots. The maps were engraved and printed by James Parker, who was suggested for the work by Benjamin Franklin, a close friend of both Alexander and Evans with whom he collaborated on future publishing ventures. They precede Evans' celebrated "A Map of Pennsylvania, New-Jersey, New-York, and the three Delaware Counties", printed in Philadelphia in 1749, and presumably inspired his later more detailed map of the Middle Colonies "A General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America" (1755), which extended west to east from the falls of the Ohio River to Narragansett Bay and south to north from Virginia to Montreal. This later map was immediately useful to the British general Edward Braddock in the French and Indian War. Later it became the preferred resource for resolving boundary disputes. The many maps and notes compiled by Evans constitute the earliest descriptions of American geology and were often reprinted over the next fifty years, frequently without crediting him. He gave freely of the results of his research to John Bartram and Peter Kalm who visited America in 1748-1749 (Thomas L. Purvis for ANB). According to Miller, this binding was probably done by John Hyndshaw and Robert McAlpine of New York City. Church 961; Evans 18640; Felcone 21; Miller 426; Streeter sale 918.