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October 26, 2007

On the Track of Manifest Destiny

117. [MAP: PACIFIC RAILROAD SURVEY]. UNITED STATES. ARMY. CORPS OF TOPGRAPHICAL ENGINEERS. [WARREN, Gouverneur Kemble]. Map of Routes for a Pacific Railroad Compiled to Accompany the Report of the Hon. Jefferson Davis, Sec. of War in Office of P.R.R. Surveys 1855 [scale] Note-This is a hurried compilation of all the authentic surveys and is designed to exhibit the relations of the different routes to each other: An elaborate map on scale of 1:3000,00 is being compiled and is in an advanced state. G. K. Warren Lt. Top. Engrs. Lith. of Bien & Sterner 90 Fulton St. N.Y. New York: Bien & Sterner, [1855]. Lithograph map, neat line to neat line: 51.5 x 58.5 cm. Light overall age-toning, creased where formerly folded, left margin slightly creased, two small splits in upper blank margin, upper right blank corner separating, old note in red ink on verso: “General map of Pacific R.R. Routes.” When found, the map is not always in the best condition due to the type of paper on which it was printed and to its having been folded in a volume.  The unassuming appearance of this map belies it historical significance.

            First edition of the precursor to Warren’s monumental map of the American West, “the culmination of six decades of effort to comprehend the outlines of western geography.Plains & Rockies IV:262.1. Phillips, America, p. 652. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #870, Vol. 4, p. 33 (illustrated in Vol. 4, opposite p. 24): “This map is a prime example of Freyhold’s excellent map work, and is an outstanding piece of work not only for Warren’s expedition but for its showing of other expeditions into an hitherto almost unknown land. Only the fur traders had preceded these military expeditions.” Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region #286.

            According to Modelski (Railroad Maps of North America: The First Hundred Years, p. 34), the present map appeared in a U.S. government document (War Department, Report of the Secretary of War Communicating the Several Pacific Railroad Explorations, Washington, 1855, 33rd Congress, 1st Session, House, Executive Document No. 129). The map was published in 1857, with revisions including: addition of potential railroad routes; imprint altered from Bien & Sterner to Bien only; added statement above Warren’s name “Revised Jany. 1857; etc. A much larger format (106 x 116 cm) version of the map also came out in 1857. Rumsey (#693.018), in his entry for the later large-format version, comments on the various editions and permutations: “The general map published with the Pacific Railroad Survey Reports. This map had earlier issues and later issues. A preliminary listing of those would be: 1855 (our #2289); 1857 (WH and AH’s copies)-blank areas in eastern Oregon, fewer authorities; 1857 published with the reports; 1858 early (see Schubert);1858 late (our #2750); 1867 (our #2594). We suspect there are other states and issues, particularly in the period of 1859 to 1866. This is one of the most important maps of the West in the 1850’s and 1860’s and a study of its different states shows the rapid growth of topographical information from government exploration and mapping.”

            Cohen, Mapping the West, pp. 172-175 (Patricia Molen van Ee discussing the revised edition of the present map and the subsequent large-format versions of 1857): “The men who mapped the trans-Mississippi West are among the best known of our national historical figures-Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Zebulon M. Pike, and John C. Frémont, to name a few of the most prominent. But it is one of the lesser-known mapmakers, Gouverneur Kemble Warren (1830-1882), primarily remembered as the man whose understanding of topography saved the Union Army at the Battle of Gettysburg, who produced the most important map of the American West prior to the Civil War... Ordered to Washington, D.C. in 1854 and assigned to the Office of the Pacific Railroad Explorations and Surveys, Warren was given the difficult task of compiling a comprehensive map of the land west of the Mississippi River, incorporating all known geographical information concerning the interior of the United States into a single work. This assignment resulted in two separate maps; the first [i.e., the present map], a preliminary compilation of the five primary routes surveyed by each of the Pacific Railroad Survey teams, and a second map based on the first, which became a cartographic landmark that remained in use and was revised and reissued until the late 1860s.” For more on the importance of Warren’s maps, see: John L. Allen, “Patterns of Promise: Mapping the Plains and the Prairies, 1800-1860,” pp. 57-60). Goetzmann, Army Exploration in the American West 1803-1863, pp. 313-16, etc. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, p. 287.

            Peters (America on Stone, p. 93) places Bien’s lithography establishment at 90 Fulton Street between 1854 and 1856, and declares: “Bien will always be remembered chiefly as the first great scientific cartographer of the United States.” ($500-1,000)

Sold. Hammer: $800.00; Price Realized: $940.00

Auction 21 Abstracts

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