A Rare Contemporary
Broadsheet Map of
The Battle of The Nile


John FAIRBURN [The Battle Of The Nile] London, 1798

DISPOSITION of the ENGLISH and FRENCH FLEETS, at the commencement of the ACTION August lst 1798.

A CHART of the MOUTHS OF THE NILE, ALEXANDRIA, &c. &c. [Sheet] 'Davis sculp.' 'Publishld Oct;r 6:th 1798, by John Fairburn, 146, Minories, London'

Separately issued broadside, unbound, priced 1 shilling, in contemporary manuscript.

Copperplate engraving and letterpress text, in total 322 x 496mm, in fine original wash colour.

Rare broadsheet, published by John Fairburn on October 6th 1798, to celebrate Admiral Nelson's victory over the French at the Battle of the Nile, on August 1st of the same year.

Fairburn was essentially a book-publisher, active from the 1790's to the 1820's.  However, during the Napoleonic War, he issued a number of maps relating to the particular events of importance in the war, including three maps relating to Napoleon's campaigns in Egypt, of which this is one.

Broadsheets of this kind were intended to capitalise on public interest in the events, and to provide a pictorial sense of events, so difficult for a newspaper to convey before the age of the photograph.

In the modern day, it is easy to forget the difficulty of communications of the period.  While Nelson's various despatches, printed in the accompanying panel, are dated from August 3rd to the 11th, the Extraordinary issue of the London Gazette published to give a full account of the battle appeared on October 2nd.  It is all the more remarkable, with the complications and time-consuming nature of engraving maps, that Fairburn should have this sheet ready only four days later.

Broadsheet maps of this kind are rarely encountered for sale.  Without the protection afforded by the covers of a book they were very susceptible to damage, both at the time and up to the present day; and once the event they related to had receded from memory, they were often simply thrown away.