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AUCTION 21

October 26, 2007

Immaculate Copy of De Cordova’s 1851 Map of Texas in Pocket Folder

91. [MAP]. DE CORDOVA, J[acob Raphael]. J. De Cordova’s Map of the State of Texas Compiled from the Records of the General Land Office of the State, by Robert Creuzbaur, Houston, 1851. Engraved by J. M. Atwood, New York. Without my signature all copies of this map have been fraudulently obtained [facsimile signature] J. DeCordova [center above neat line] Entered according to Act of Congress on the 28th. Day of July 1848 by J. De Cordova, in the Clerk’s Office of the United States District Court for the District of Texas. [untitled inset oval map at lower right showing area from Texas west to the Pacific Ocean, including New Mexico, Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Indian Territory, Northern Mexico, and southern and Baja California, approximately 23.5 cm tall and 30 cm wide]; [table at upper left indicating counties into which land districts fall] Reference to Land Districts [at lower left are seals of Texas and the Texas General Land Office along with certifications with facsimile signatures of Thomas J. Rusk, Sam Houston, David S. Kaufman, T. Pilsbury, John C. Hays, W. D. Miller, George T. Wood, Thomas W. Ward, George W. Smyth]. New York: J. M. Atwood, 1851. Lithograph map on four joined sheets of bank note paper, original wash and outline color, outer border of pale yellow and thin-line rule, inner border pink, neat line to neat line: 81.5 x 79.5 cm; border to border: 85.2 x 82.7 cm; overall size: 87.8 x 85.5 cm. Folded into pocket covers (64.5 x 10.5 cm), original terracotta roan, blind embossed on both covers, lettering in gilt on upper cover: J. De Cordova’s map of Texas, printed white advertisement leaf affixed to verso of upper cover: J. H. Colton: Map Publisher, No. 86, Cedar Street, New York.... The covers are very good with light shelf wear, gutter with a few small chips (minor losses to blank gutter). Except for some inconsequential offsetting, the map is exceptionally fine with vibrant original color. Upper center grant boundaries are outlined and noted in contemporary pencil. It would be difficult to find a more desirable copy of this great Texas map.

            Third edition, with revisions, including the inset map reflecting Texas borders for the first time after the 1850 Compromise, which reduced the Texas Panhandle from the Emory (item 137) configuration to the reduced shape shown here. First issued by De Cordova in 1849 with original signatures of De Cordova, Sam Houston, et al., followed by editions in 1850, 1851, 1853, 1856, 1857, 1858, 1861, 1866, 1867, and as late as 1872. A version came out in small format (58 x 54 cm) in 1854 just before De Cordova sold the rights to his large map to Colton. Colton published a reduced version of the map in his 1856 Atlas of the World, and this became the most universally used map of Texas in the latter half of the nineteenth century, being found repeatedly in Colton’s atlases and other places as well. The large format versions, as in the present map, are the most elusive and preferred. “The 1849 edition has only two copies located. Eberstadt called the 1849 issue ‘possibly the finest [Texas map] of the period.’ Colton changed the inset map from the oval showing all of Texas to the southwestern portion of Colton’s U.S. atlas map.... With a list of the Land districts, this map was useful for both land promoters and settlers” (Rumsey 3366, citing the 1856 edition).

            Bryan & Hanak 23 (1849 edition). Day, Maps of Texas, p. 55, 61, 87, 152 (editions respectively of 1851, 1856, 1866, 1872). Fifty Texas Rarities 36n (citing the 1849 edition): “Only nineteen years separate this map and Stephen F. Austin’s, yet the contrast between the two is striking. During those years, Texas had been a part of Mexico, an independent republic, and a state of the U.S.” Graff 920 (1849 edition). Contours of Discovery, p. 57 (1849 edition): “To meet the needs of new immigrants coming into the state, roads and rivers as well as the political divisions were carefully drawn.” Martin & Martin, Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900, Color frontispiece, Plate 39 & p. 141 (1849 edition): “One of the first major cartographic productions after annexation to be based upon the records of the General Land Office.” Phillips, America, p. 845 (citing editions of 1848, i.e. 1849; 1851, 1853, 1856, 1857). Taliaferro 295A, 295B & 295C (1849, 1851 & 1856 editions). Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 603 (1849 edition). See also Basic Texas Books 38 (referring to the 1849 edition): “Sam Houston delivered a speech praising the map on the floor of the U.S. Senate...assert[ing] that it was `the most correct and authentic map of Texas ever compiled.’”

            Shown on a large scale are boundaries of land districts, Native American villages, cities and towns, post offices, colonies (e.g., the Fisher and Miller German colony), forts, roads, ferries, and missions. This map was probably of great use to potential and actual immigrants. Oddly, the inset map shows New Mexico extending into present-day southern California, although California had been admitted as a state the previous year.

            Jacob Raphael De Cordova (1808-1868), a Jamaican native, came to Texas by way of Philadelphia after his health was damaged by the severe northern winters. Once in Texas, he became the most enthusiastic and best-known promoter of the State since Stephen F. Austin, even travelling back East to give lectures about the wonders of his newly found home. Not just a starry-eyed dreamer, however, he accumulated what was probably the largest amount of land scrip in private hands, at one point controlling about a million acres, which earned him the title of “Publicist of an Empire.” In addition to his real estate activities, he was also active in civic, political, and fraternal affairs. He laid out Waco and sold land lots there. As Natalie Ornish points out, his land business was so successful that “it was a quasi-official immigration department of the Texas Government and became the largest land agency that ever operated in the Southwest” (p. 61 in Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage Press, 1989). Ornish also comments: “Jacob Raphael De Cordova literally put Texas on a map” (p. 58). See also Ornish’s article in Handbook of Texas Online: Jacob Raphael De Cordova). Ironically, he died debt-ridden. ($60,000-90,000)

Sold. Hammer: $60,000.00; Price Realized: $70,500.00

Auction 21 Abstracts

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