Beavers

Talk in the news of beavers roaming across Welsh gardens brings this map to mind…

A new and exact map of the Dominions of the King of Great Britain on ye continent of North America containing Newfoundland, New Scotland, New England, New York, New Jersey, Pensilvania, Maryland, Virginia and Carolina. According to the Newest and most Exact Observations by Herman Moll, Geographer. 1715 (E) F1:4 (5)

…because it has a lovely, if not fanciful, inset picture of the Beaver in action.

‘A view of ye industry of ye Beavers of Canada in making Dams to stop ye course of a rivulet , in order to form a great Lake, about which they build their habitations. To effect this : they fell large trees with their teeth, in such a manner as to make them come cross ye rivulet, to lay ye foundation of ye Dam; they make Mortar, work up, and finish ye whole with great order and wonderfull  dexterity. The Beavers have two doors to their Lodges, one to the water and the other to the Land Side. According to French Accounts (Moll’s spelling and grammar used).

The King was George I, and Herman Moll was the cartographer (more on Moll here, and here). This map was originally part of a larger work, The World Described, an atlas of thirty large double-sided beautiful maps, which were sold both separately as well as numerous editions of the atlas. The map featured here was soon known as the ‘Beaver map’.  While the main map deals with the Thirteen colonies of the British the insets, apart from the Beaver picture, show the complex mix of colonial claims in North America. This inset shows, just under 100 years before the Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of the United States in 1803, how close together Spanish, French and British claims were, and this is without any mention of Native American lands.