West Indies, agreeable to the most approved maps and charts


Bold map of the Caribbean published at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

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Just a few years before this map was published, Thomas Kitchin estimated that over 50,000 slaves were brought to the Caribbean annually by European traders looking to fulfill a voracious need for free labor in the plantation based economy. They were part of the triangular trade of the 17th and 18th centuries, where European goods would be traded for African slaves, who were then shipped in chains across the ocean and exchanged for raw materials like sugar, cotton, and tobacco.

Though the map presents an ostensibly political image, it’s within this framework of economic opportunity that most geopolitical activity in the Caribbean, or West Indies, took place. European colonial occupiers are indicated with a letter adjacent to most of the prominent islands, while Hispaniola is split between the Spanish and French according to an annotation immediately underneath. Most place names are confined to the coastlines, which also show navigational hazards like sand banks, reefs, and cays. These last, as explained by a note in the upper middle, “are small rocky islands…where boats, or little sloops, if run aground, are easily got off.” The location of Columbus’ landing in 1492 on Cat Island is identified and topography is shown pictorially.

Most examples of the map I’ve found credit the engraving to Thomas Kitchin, and attribute it’s original publication to George Henry Millar’s “New Complete & Universal System of Geography.” If that’s the case, it was likely engraved or updated by another, as it’s unlikely that Kitchin would misspell his own name in the title block!

Map Details

Publication Date: c. 1782

Author: Thomas Kitchin?

Sheet Width (in): 18.30

Sheet Height (in): 15.10

Condition: A-

Condition Description: A bit of wear along the originally issued fold lines, most prominent in a vertical fold on the left third of the sheet. Faint spotting visible in the margins, but the image itself remains clean and highly presentable. It features delicate hand color and a bold impression.


1 in stock