Henry Briggs’s The North Part of America (1625).
The Boston Athenæum map collection contains thousands of sheet maps, plans, and charts, and more than 600 bound atlases, ranging from the fifteenth to the twenty first centuries in date.
Henry Briggs’s The North Part of America (1625) pictured above was drawn 7 years before Cambridge was officially established as Newe Towne in 1632. Briggs was both a mathematician, whose achievements included inventing logarithms to the base of 10, and a cartographer, whose North Part of America is one of the most important maps of its time. The map is a composite, place names are recorded, reflecting the nationality of the discoverer, in English, French or Spanish. The map shows California as an island, an error that was repeated for the next hundred years in all maps made of North America.
The Boston Athenæum has made a few of its most rare maps and atlases, including the Briggs map, available online.