Abel Buell : biography
Abel Buell (1742–1822), born in Killingworth, Connecticut, was a goldsmith, silversmith, jewelry designer, engraver, surveyor, type manufacturer, mint master, textile miller, and counterfeiter in the American colonies. In 1784, Buell published A New and correct Map of the United States of North America Layd down from the latest Observations and best Authorities agreeable to the Peace of 1783; it was the first map of the new United States created by an American.
Squandering or giving away all the money he earned, Buell died in 1822 at the New Haven Almshouse. Leaving little behind, he is known mostly because of the biography researched and written by Dr. Lawrence C. Wroth.
As a child, Abel Buell apprenticed with a goldsmith. By age 19, he was financially secure and married his girlfriend. In 1755, Buell was apprenticed, Madison, Connecticut to master silversmith and his future father-in-law, Ebenezer Chittenden. Chittenden has the distinction of having produced more individual, surviving silver pieces, than any other silversmith in Connecticut.
Buell gained notoriety at an early age as a counterfeiter by altering five-pound note engraving plates into larger denomination plates, and then printing the notes on a homemade printing press. He received a relatively light sentence of branding above the forehead under the scalp, because of his youth, and avoided serving time at the Norwich, Connecticut prison with a commutation to "town arrest". In 1765, Buell received a patent for a lapidary machine, making him the first Connecticut resident to receive a patent. After creating a ring on that machine, and presenting it to the prosecuting attorney, Buell's counterfeiting sentence was pardoned.
In 1770, Buell moved to New Haven, Connecticut and went to work for cartographer Bernard Romans. After the American Revolutionary War ended, Buell used the minting machine he had invented to mint the State of Connecticut's first official pennies. By 1784, Buell cast his own typeset and published the first American-made map of the United States. The wall map measured 43 x 48 inches, was printed in four sections, and hand-applied watercolor gave the map its color. In 1800, Buell went to England on behalf of the State of Connecticut to purchase copper. While there, he gained both practical knowledge and a sum of money that allowed him, upon his return, to establish one of Connecticut's first cotton mills.
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