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The Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection

The Lawrence H. Slaughter Collection of English maps, charts, atlases, globes and books relating to Colonial North America came to the Map Division of The New York Public Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Library as a gift from the Slaughter family in 1997 and 2002. The intent of the gift was to keep the collection together, while making it accessible to the general public, scholars and collectors. Mr. Slaughter had a long association with the Map Division via his membership in the Mercator Society of The New York Public Library. The Mercator Society is a donor group for the Map Division, and funding from this group enables the division to purchase and conserve antiquarian maps and atlases.

Some 600 maps, 100 atlases, and 50 books focusing on English Colonial North America make up this unique collection. Over a twenty-year period, Mr. Slaughter, with the assistance of E. Forbes Smiley III, a New York map dealer, developed his collection specifically around the history of English mapping of the Middle Atlantic colonies in North America. In addition, there are numerous Dutch and French maps complementing the English maps, as well as maps and charts covering many areas outside the Middle Atlantic colonies.

Highlights of the Slaughter Collection include:

CITY MAPS OF NEW YORK: Mark Tiddeman’s Draught of New York Harbor, ca. 1749; the “Ratzen” plan of the City, first edition, first state; the Montresor plan of New York; and John Thornton’s chart of Long Island, showing New York City, 1689.

MAPS and ATLASES: Mitchell’s map of British Dominions, 1755; George Willdey’s composite atlas, ca. 1717; William Berry’s collection of 41 maps, 1680-1702; and two magnificent 18-inch library globes, by John Senex, 1720, in wonderfully spirited clawfoot cradles.

BOOKS: Christopher Colles’s Survey of the Roads, 1789; John Speed’s A Prospect of the World, 1646 and 1668; John Seller’s Atlas Terrestris / Atlas Minimus, 1685; Thornton’s The English Pilot, the Fourth Book [America] 1689,1713, and 1732.

The Slaughter Collection complements and enhances map and atlas collections in both the Map Division and the Rare Book Division of The New York Public Library. Established in 1898, the Map Division holds some 420,000 maps and 20,000 books and atlases dating from the 16th century to the present.

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