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The West Indian atlas [frontispiece] : or, a general description of the West Indies

Engraved title page depicting natives, a trader, barrels of goods and indigenous flora and fauna on an island. Ships and other islands in the background. Putto with a trident and a torch above the title.

We Are One: Thomas Jefferys, Geographer to the King, compiled an atlas devoted exclusively to the Caribbean region because of its importance within Britain’s commercial empire. The atlas’s frontispiece, like map cartouches of the period, aims to evoke the economic and cultural landscape of the region. This iconic scene shows the African slaves who worked the Caribbean sugar plantations, which had very high mortality rates. Bundles of sugar cane lie on the right. The barrels shown most likely contain molasses, a byproduct of sugar production and a chief export along with sugar. The large ships in the background could have transported these commodities to other North American colonies or Europe.