300 years after the death of the famous pirate Blackbeard, Daniel Crouch Rare Books is taking to the high seas with material related to pirates and privateers on their stand at TEFAF New York 2018.
The exhibition begins with a rare manuscript world map made for Cardinal Richelieu, the power behind the throne of Louis XIII. The map shows Richelieu’s support of the global ambitions of French power, including colonies in New France in the Americas: the initial European presence in the New World that would lead to the culture of piracy in the area.
The centrepiece of the stand is the first map of Nassau, the port in the Bahamas that was home to the ‘Republic of Pirates’ in the early eighteenth century, as seen in the programme Black Sails. The town was populated by pirates, at one point overseen by Blackbeard as a magistrate.
Piracy was inextricably linked to trade. Privateers did not just seek bullion or treasure, but market commodities. When Blackbeard was captured and killed, his ships were carrying sugar and cotton. Two items on the stand show the eagerness to encourage commercial interest in the area roamed by pirates. Thomas Jefferys’ atlas of the West Indies was designed to help advertise the potential of the lucrative sugar trade, persuading investors that
the risk posed by privateers were outweighed by the potential financial gain.
Henry Popple’s map of North America shows swathes of land waiting to be claimed: one text label reads: “A fit place for an English factory”. Popple’s relative William was secretary to the Board of Trade and worked on the creation of a justice system to convict pirates.
DCRB will also be showing a first edition of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe. Defoe was inspired by the stories of pirate castaways like Alexander Selkirk, who spent four years marooned before being rescued by the privateer Woodes Rogers.