1731 map of cape cod

Detail from Cyprian Southack's 1731 map of new England.

Credit: Courtesy of Eldred's Auction House

Map Of First Cape Cod Canal To Be Auctioned

November 14, 2017

Dave Garner of Orleans loves maps and he has an extensive collection of them. Every once in a while, he’s willing to give one up, and that will happen at an auction on Cape Cod Thursday, Nov. 16.

The map, Garner explains, is technically a chart since it was created to be used by mariners. It was drawn in 1731 by naval officer and cartographer Cyprian Southack. It is a chart of the entire New England coast extending up to and including Nova Scotia. But for Dave Garner, the most intriguing and valuable aspect of the document is its depiction of what was known as “Jeremiah’s Gutter,” also referred to as Cape Cod’s first canal. It lies at the border of Orleans and Eastham. It is now filled in and covered by a rotary, but back in the 1700s it was commonly used by colonial sailors to go from Cape Cod Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, but only at the highest of tides when the “gutter” flooded.

How Southack came to draw it is because of the wreck of the infamous pirate ship Whydah, captained by Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy. Southack was dispatched to wrest from the locals — whatever treasure was left over, they quickly salvaged, including what they found on the beach. Word is the locals were not that cooperative and Southack left empty handed, but he did manage to document the route he took to get from Cape Cod Bay to the ocean and the site of the Whydah wreck in Wellfleet. That became the first depiction of Jeremiah’s Gutter and proof that it existed.

Garner saw a reproduction of the chart when he was in a local map store and was immediately taken by it. So, he searched around until he found the original and purchased it for about $8,000. It is expected to sell for between $7,000 and $9,000 when it is auctioned off at Eldred’s Auction House in Dennis.


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