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Thomas Abernethie’s Own Personal Autographed Book titled, “The History of the Revolution of South Carolina...” With His Historic Engraved Fold-out Map of Charleston Harbor Contained Within, Engraved by Thomas Abernethie! Colonial South Carolina’s Paper Money and Map Engraver

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THOMAS ABERNETHIE (1783 - August 20, 1795). 18th Century Land Surveyor, Printer, and Engraver active in Charleston, South Carolina who arrived in Charleston during American Revolutionary War, about 1783.

1785-Dated, First Edition, Engraver Thomas Abernethie’s Hand-Signed Personal Copy of the Historic Revolutionary War Book titled: “The History of the Revolution of South Carolina from the British Province to and Independent State by David Ramsay, M.D. Member Of The American Congress. In Two Volumes. Vol. II.” (This is Vol. II only, Complete with Map), Thomas Abernethie was the Sketch of Charleston Harbour Maps’ Engraver, Revolution South Carolina David Ramsay M.D., Printed by Isaac Collins, Trenton (New Jersey) M.DCC.LXXXV. (1785). Its very rare with its enclosed Revolutionary War Fold-out Map of Charleston Harbor, titled:

“A Sketch of CHARLESTON HARBOUR Shewing the disposition of the BRITISH FLEET under the Command of Vice Adml. MARIOT ARBUTHNOT in the Attack on FORT MOULTRIE on SULLIVAN ISLAND in 1780” (Signed by the map’s engraver within the engraved text at lower right: “Abernethie Sculpt Charleston.”

This (1785 undated) fold-out Map measures 7” x 12” (17.78 x 30.48 cm). The British attack on Fort Moultrie on Sullivan Island in Charleston Harbour took place on June 28th, 1776 by the British Ships of War was under the Command of Sir Peter Parker.

As early as 1785 Thomas Abernethie maintained offices on 105 Broad Street, where he advertised himself as Surveyor, a Copper-Plate Engraver, and a Printer; in 1786 and 1789 he was contracted to engrave the City of Charleston's Colonial Era Paper Money; also known to have Engraved the Maps for David Ramsay's 1785 book, History of the American Revolution. His historical maps are considered the earliest to be printed in North America south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

This extraordinary historical find, to have the very rare 1785-dated Book with the rare Map, Signed and Inscribed: “From T. Abernathie Charleston S.C. / To Mr. John Abernathie Haddington / 1786 & T. B. Enr.” Sent from Charleston to his Scottish relative in 1786.

Contemporary leather covers, 574 pages, lacking two pages with 323/324 and 325/326, tight binding, with its “Sketch of Charleston Harbour” the 12” x 7” foldout Map. (Of additional historic interesting factual note, this book was BANNED for sale in Great Britain in 1786.)

This is also the very First American Book ever allowed to be copyrighted! This historical fact determined by the United States “Copyright Act” of 1790, as was petitioned by David Ramsay. The Copyright Act of 1790 was the first Federal Copyright Act to be instituted in the United States. The stated object of the Act was the "encouragement of learning," and it achieved this by securing authors the "sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing and vending" the copies of their "maps, charts, and books" for a term of 14 years, with the right to renew for one additional 14-year term, should the copyright holder still be alive.

During the First Session of the 1st United States Congress in 1789, the House of Representatives considered enacting a Copyright law. The historian David Ramsay petitioned Congress, seeking to restrict the publication of his History of the American Revolution on April 15th. Both houses of Congress pursued a Copyright law more pointedly during 1790's Second Session. They responded to President George Washington's 1790 State of the Union Address, in which he urged Congress to pass legislation designed for "the promotion of Science and Literature" so as to better educate the public. This led to the “Patent Act” of 1790 and shortly thereafter, the “Copyright Act” of 1790.

1785 Abernathie Map of Fort Moultrie, Sullivan's Island, Charleston, South Carolina is one of the first Maps printed South of the Mason-Dixon Line.

In the summer of 1776, the British dispatched a fleet of ships to regain the possession of Fort Sullivan from the Americans. Due to tactical errors and misinformation, the British lost the battle despite the fact that they had more than double the manpower and firepower than the Americans. This map extends from Charleston in the west to Sullivan Island in the east, and depicts fortifications, land terrain, a "destroyed" Fort Johnson, and numerous ships in the harbor. Two floating bridges of boats are shown from Charleston to Shutes Folly and from Sullivan Island to Haddrell Point. Engraved by Thomas Abernathie and published in Trenton, N.J. by Isaac Collins. Overall, a very good map with expected light even tone and some marginal roughness. Map References: OCLC 748847663. Nebenzahl, K., A Bibliography of Printed Battle Plans of the American Revolution 1775-1795, 72. Wheat, J.C., and Brun, C. F., Maps and Charts Published in America before 1800; a Bibliography, 596.

Thomas Abernethie (c. 1783 - August 20, 1795) was a Scottish land surveyor, printer, and engraver active in Charleston, South Carolina during the latter part of the 18th century. Abernathie arrived in Charleston during American Revolutionary War, about 1783. As early as 1785 he maintained offices on 105 Broad Street, where he advertised himself as surveyor, a Copper-plate engraver, and a printer. He later relocated his offices to 227 Meeting Street (1786) and ultimately 42 Queen Street (1785). In 1786 and 1789 he was contracted to engrave the city of Charleston's paper money. His is also known to have engraved the maps for David Ramsay's 1785 History of the American Revolution. Little else known of Abernathie's life, but his maps are considered the earliest printed in North America south of the Mason-Dixon Line. He died on August 20 of 1795.

The Second Earliest Map Published South of the Mason Dixon Line. Scarce and important Charleston Battle Plan, issued in David Ramsay's History of the Revolution of South Carolina.

Thomas Abernethie was an early Scottish engraver in Charleston, South Carolina. Very little is known about his life and work, which includes the maps for Ramsay's book, some treasury notes for the City of Charleston early Masonic bookplates and other local ephemera, as well as a reduced version of Petrie's Iconography of Charleston.

With the exception of Moreau Sarrazin's plan of St. Augustine, published in Charleston in 1742, Abernethie's maps are apparently the earliest maps published south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The source material for this map is also interesting, in that Nebenzahl does not note any direct sources for the map, suggesting that Abernethie's map is quite possibly derived from American sources. The map is also one of the earliest battle plans of the Revolution engraved in America and the only earliest Charleston Battle Plan engraved in America.

Ramsay's book has the distinction of being the first work granted a copyright in the United States. While the engraving style is nave, the map is full of interesting details.

The map provides a detailed plan of Charleston and its fortifications, with a key showing approximately 20 battle details, along with the blockade of the Cooper River, and the names and details of the various ships engaged in the siege and other battle notes. The first plan of Charleston printed in America. While Ramsay's book occasionally appears on the market, the separate maps rarely appear on the market.

Scarce Map of Charleston and the Battle at Fort Sullivan. "A Sketch of Charleston Harbour Shewing the Disposition of the British Fleet under the Command of Vice Adm. Mariot Arbuthnot upon the Attack on Fort Moultrie on Sulivan Island in 1780", David Ramsay.

Subject: Charleston, South Carolina. Period: 1785 (circa). SEE Publication: “The History of the Revolution of South Carolina.”

This important map of Charleston Harbor during the attack on Fort Sullivan is one of the earliest Battle Plans of the American Revolution, and only the second map of Fort Sullivan published in America. Charleston was a critical location as it was the largest city and only Port in the South.Fort Moultrie is a series of fortifications on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, built to protect the city of Charleston, South Carolina.

The first fort, formerly named Fort Sullivan, built of palmetto logs, inspired the flag and nickname of South Carolina, as "The Palmetto State". The fort was renamed for the U.S. patriot commander in the Battle of Sullivan's Island, General William Moultrie. During British occupation, in 1780-1782, the fort was known as Fort Arbuthnot.

Col. Moultrie took command of Sullivan's Island on March 2, 1776, which included a garrison of 413 men of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment of Infantry and 22 men of the 4th South Carolina Regiment, artillery. The island included a fort, still under construction at the southern tip, which was being supervised by Capt. De Brahm. The square design, with corner bastions, was supposed to have parallel rows of palmetto logs 10 feet high (3.0 m), filled in with 16 feet of sand (4.9 m).

However, by June 28, only the front (the southeast and southeast curtain walls and bastions) was complete. The northern portion of the fort was unfinished, standing at only 7 ft (2.1 m). Cavaliers were constructed along the rear walls.

The blue flag on the southeast bastion had the word "Liberty" on it. A total of 31 guns commanded the approach from Five Fathom Hole offshore, past the island and the Middle Ground shoal, before ships could enter the harbor.

South Carolina patriots began to build a fort to guard Charleston, South Carolina, harbor in 1776. Royal Navy Admiral Sir Peter Parker led a fleet of nine warships in an attack against the fort-known as Fort Sullivan and incomplete-on June 28, 1776, near the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. The soft palmetto logs did not crack under bombardment but rather absorbed the shot; cannonballs reportedly even bounced off the walls of the structure.

William Moultrie, commander of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment, and his four hundred men fought a day-long battle that ended with Parker's heavily damaged fleet being driven from the area. The fort hence took its name, as Fort Moultrie, in his honor. Charleston locals celebrate "Carolina Day" to commemorate the bravery of the defenders of the fort.

During this battle, Moultrie flew a flag of his own design, authorized by the colonial government. It was later called the “Moultrie” Flag, or “Liberty” Flag, and became iconic to the Revolution in the South.

The British eventually captured Fort Moultrie, as part of the Siege of Charleston in spring 1780, and renamed it as Fort Arbuthnot. Nevertheless, the Patriots won the war, and British troops departed in 1782, at which time the flag was presented in Charleston, by General Nathanael Greene, commander of the southern Regulars.

In 1960, the Department of Defense transferred Fort Moultrie to the National Park Service. The National Park Service manages the historic fort as a unit of Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park.

The National Park Service has interpreted the fort as a tour backward in time from its defenses from World War II to the original palmetto log fort constructed by William Moultrie. The preserved Harbor Entrance Control Post and BCN 520 (now a private residence) are the main relics of the World War II era.

The National Register of Historic Places listed Fort Moultrie Quartermaster and Support Facilities Historic District on September 6, 2007. In 2016, the America the Beautiful quarter for South Carolina featured Fort Moultrie.
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