The Library of Congress recently announced that philanthropist David M. Rubenstein had given it stewardship of the first map printed in North America, depicting the boundaries of the new American nation. The map, which was printed in early 1784, is considered the best preserved of those few copies in existence. The map will be displayed at the Library of Congress in the early spring and will be available for public viewing for five years.
The map had been in the custody of the New Jersey Historical Society since 1862 and was sold at Christie’s in Manhattan on Dec. 3, 2010.
Abel Buell’s map “A New and Correct Map of the United States of North America Layd Down from the Latest Observations and Best Authorities Agreeable to the Peace of 1783″ is the first to be copyrighted in the United States and was published only six months after the Treaty of Paris signing (Sept. 3, 1783) ended the Revolutionary War. This map is the single most important American cartographic document missing from the collection of the Library of Congress, according to John Hébert, chief of the Library’s Geography and Map Division.