John Norman

Artist's Biography

The American Pilot: Containing the Navigation of the Sea Coast of North America... .

Letterpress and copper plate engraved maps. 1794.
Folio, overall 22 x 18" (55.7 x 45.3 cm)
Condition: Overall in remarkably good condition. Binding is period primitive boards with modern repairs. New leather spine and corners. Entire book was taken apart, maps repaired, de-acidified and cleaned as necessary, binding repaired than rebound with new tabs and end papers. Maps have occasional fox marks and or minor repairs. The overall appearance is classically colonial American. Primitive and functional for use aboard ships.
LOCATION: New York City

Inventory Number: 96421
Price: $185,000.00
Publisher : Boston, Printed and Sold by Wm. Norman at his office No. 75 Newbury Street MDCCXCIIII.
Title continues with: "from the Streights of Belle-Isle to Cayenne. Including the Iland and Banks of Newfoundland, the West-India Islands, and all the islands on the coast. WITH Particular Directions for Sailing to, and entering the Principal Harbours, Rivers, &c. DESCRIBING ALSO The Capes, Heal Lands, Rivers, Bays, Roads, Havens, Harbours, Straits,Rocks, Sands, Shoals, Banks, Depths of Water, and Anchorage. SHEWING The Courses and Distances from one Place to Another, the Ebbing of the Sea, the Setting of the Tides and Currents, &c. With Many other things necessary to be know in Navigation. LIKEWISE, Necessary Directions for those who are not fully acquainted with the use of charts. CERTIFICATE At the request of the Publisher, I have carefully examined the CHARTS contained in this Book, comparde them with HOLLAND's and Des BARRES's so far as they extend, and the reminder with very good Authorities, and find them to be as accurate as any of the kind hitberto published. Osgood Carleton. Boston September 10th 1794. Teacher of Mathematics.

An American cartographic rarity: a complete copy of Norman's famed American Pilot:

The first American marine atlas was Matthew Clark’s A Complete Set of Charts of the Coast of America, was published in Boston in 1790. Two of charts that appeared in Clarks work were been engraved by John Norman. It is likely that Norman was inspired to launch his own enterprise. In January 1790, Norman published a notice in the Boston Gazette stating he was currently engraving charts of all the coast of America on a large scale. These were assembled and published in 1791 as The American Pilot. Norman’s Pilot was the second American marine atlas, indeed the second American atlas of any kind, marked an advance over the earlier work of Matthew Clark. New editions of the Pilot appeared in 1792 and 1794 In 1794 William Norman, John’s son brought out further editions in 1794, 1798, 1801, and 1803. Despite the seemingly large number of editions, The American Pilot is one of the rarest of all American atlases, and one of only a small handful published in the eighteenth century. Wheat and Brun locate just ten complete copies for the first five editions: 1791 (Huntington, Harvard); 1792 (LC, Clements); 1794(1) (LC, JCB, Boston Public); 1794(2) (Yale); 1798 (LC, Boston Public).

John Norman (1748-1817). Born in England and died in Boston. He was listed in an advertisement in the "Pennsylvania Journal" on May 11, 1774, [likely noting his first appearance in this country] as "John Norman, Architect and Landscape Engraver." In 1781 he moved to Boston. One of his first endeavors in Boston was to produce the engravings for an American edition of James Murray "Impartial History of the Present War in America." Norman is considered to be one of the great colonial engravers, engraving maps, views and portraits. Although his engraved work is considered to be crude or primitive by many, it is our belief that his style fit right in with some of the other engravers of the period, such as Paul Revere and Amos Doolittle. He is believed to have been the first engraver in America to produce a portrait of George Washington.

William Norman (born? d.1807). Assumed to be the son of John Norman. William's name appears for the first time in 1794 as publisher for the "Pilot." An advertising broadside exists naming him as the publisher of the many of John Norman's charts and pilots with a date c.1798. In this advertisement, this chart is shown as being offered as part of a group of "single charts" or as we call it today, separately issued. (See "Mapping Boston" by Alex Krieger and David Cobb, p. 43 for illustration)

Osgood Carlton (1742-1816). Fought in the Revolutionary War and was actually at the Battle of Bunker (Breed's) Hill. He stayed on in Boston and made quite a name for himself as a teacher of mathematics and astronomy (self-professored?) and as a mapmaker for Boston, Massachusetts, and the northern province of Maine. John Norman worked collaboratively with Carleton on a number of projects and was "his engraver" soon after the war. His name was used to "certify" Matthews Clark's charts, as well as the early editions of John Norman's charts. He must have been highly regarded in Boston.
Maps , Atlases