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October 26, 2007

“A truly ‘American’ map” & “the premier map for its period” (Rumsey)
With Inset of the Oregon and Mandan Districts

127. [MAP]. TANNER, H[enry] S[chenck]. [Title within large pictorial cartouche at lower right, signed in image J. W. Steel Sc.] United States of America: By H. S. Tanner, 1832. Third Edition [lower left below neat line] Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1832 by H. S. Tanner, in the Clerks Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. [center below neat line] Philadelphia Published by Henry S. Tanner. [lower right below neat line] Engraved by H. S. Tanner, assisted by E. B. Dawson, W. Allen & J. Knight. [16 inset city and regional maps from upper left, counter-clockwise] [1] Environs of Albany [2] Environs of Boston [3] Environs of New York [4] Environs of Philadelphia and Trenton [5] Environs of Baltimore and Washington; [6] Cincinnati [7] Charleston [8] New Orleans [9] South Part of Florida [10] Washington [11] Baltimore [12] Philadelphia [13] New York [14] Boston [15] Pittsburg & Environs [16] Oregon and Mandan Districts (20.5 x 33.3 cm with inset Outlet of Oregon River) [plus 14 profiles of portages, canals, and railroads and 2 tables at lower right] [1] Statistics of the Western Districts [2] Statistics of the United States. Philadelphia, 1832. Copper-engraved case map with original outline color and some roads (including “The National Road” indicated in blue), decorative border shaded pink, dissected into sixty sections, laid down on contemporary linen with original green silk selvage, marbled paper mounted on verso of two sections. Neat line to neat line: 116 x 154 cm, folding to approximately 21.5 x 16.7 cm. Some sections have light marginal chipping with small losses, light offsetting, uniform light age-toning, small sections of selvage wanting and/or frayed, marbled paper on two sections of verso rubbed. Overall a very good copy. Original case not present.

            Third edition. Tanner published the first edition of this map in 1829 (American Imprints (1829) 40603; Phillips, America, p. 885; Rumsey 975; Streeter Sale 3835), with further editions (see Howes T28). American Imprints (1830) (1832), Phillips, America, p. 887. Ristow, American Maps & Mapmakers, pp. 191-198. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, p. 253: “Twice as detailed as Melish’s map of 1816.” Wheat cites the inset Oregon and Mandan Districts in the 1829 edition of Tanner’s map. Cf. Mapping the Transmississippi West II, #390 & p. 94 (illustrated), p. 96 (in a discussion of the U.S. version of the Oregon country boundaries): “On his large map, ‘United States,’ H. S. Tanner published an insert entitled ‘Oregon and Mandan Districts,’ a name to be found on many maps subsequently, but its first appearance was this of 1829, with a sub-insert ‘Outlet of Oregon River’ (the mouth of the Columbia). Just west of the ‘Mountains of Anahuac,’ the extensions of the Rockies below the ‘Boundary of 1819,’ is the legend ‘Sources of the S. Buenaventura River of the Pacific.’” In footnote 23, p. 96, Wheat comments further: “This was a popular map which went into numerous editions, all, however, with the same inset, so far as has been ascertained. The geography is that of Lewis and Clark, with Long’s data at the southeast. Tanner’s use of the term ‘Districts’ was a happy one, and became extremely popular.”

            Rumsey remarks of this map: “Distances on all major roads are shown between towns, an effort that Tanner states in the Memoir caused the map to take twice as long to produce. Latitude is measured from Washington, D.C., making this a truly ‘American’ map. Although Tanner states that ‘The new map of the United States is founded on, and embraces generally, the valuable and original information contained in our American Atlas,’ the general form of the map bears a striking resemblance to J. & A. Walker’s Map of the United States published in London in 1827, a fact that Tanner does not mention.... This is one of best early large maps of the United States and the premier map for its period, without equal until Mitchell produced the first edition of his Reference and Distance Map of the United States in 1834.” Schwartz & Ehrenberg quote W. L. G. Joerg, who called the map “a synoptic view of the whole country.”

            Ristow remarks that the decades between 1820 and 1840 have been called the “Golden Age of American Cartography” and comments: “During these years commercial map publishing, based upon copper-plate engraving, reached its zenith. A principal contributor to the golden age and one of the most productive and successful cartographic publishers of the period was Henry Schenck Tanner.” (Ristow in American Maps & Mapmakers devotes a chapter to Tanner.)

            Working with copperplate engraving, Tanner here has produced a map almost mind-boggling in the amount of detail it includes, and at this remove, one is hard-pressed to imagine the amount of work and effort that must have gone into its creation. The level of detail is somewhat uneven in many ways, and one can sometimes see Tanner on the horns of a dilemma. For example, in larger areas, such as Pennsylvania and North Carolina, Tanner literally has more room to include more detail. In smaller geographical areas, however, one can see that although he packed in as much information as he possibly could, he simply ran out of room. In Rhode Island, for example, several towns are not shown. In Connecticut, the town of Simsbury is omitted. Virginia, by contrast, has nearly every pig path and community worthy of a name noted.

            The map also demonstrates curious lacunae and the information lag that seemed generally to plague both book publishers and mapmakers when it came to the South. For example, in North Carolina, the modern-day town of Kinston is misspelled. Along the Savannah River, both Purysburg in South Carolina and Ebenezer in Georgia are shown, even though they had been abandoned since the Revolutionary War. In North Georgia, the Cherokee Nation is shown as the Gold Regions. Ironically, the Cherokee town of New Echota is not shown, although it had been in existence for many years as the Cherokee Nation’s capital.

            Naturally, information becomes sparser and sparser the farther west the map extends, and there is not much detail on the Transmississippi West, although many rivers and Native American settlements are shown. Interestingly, the famous lead mines in Missouri at Potosi, where Moses Austin worked, are indicated. The area to which his son Stephen F. Austin eventually emigrated is given short shrift. Although the word “Texas” appears, it is shown as part of Mexico and geographical features are confined to just a few rivers and the town of Nacogdoches. (In 1830, Tanner published Stephen F. Austin’s epochal map of Texas.) Although Tanner may not have been contemplating future events in Texas, the inset map at the top of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest explored by Lewis and Clark seems to indicate that he was perfectly aware of the nation’s growing desire to extend its territory to the Pacific Coast.

            Engraver and publisher Tanner (1786-1858), is “thought to be the first native-born American to devote his career to publishing” (Tooley, 2004 edition, Vol. 4, p. 246). He engraved and published some of the most important maps of the United States in the nineteenth century. The fine, large cartouche is the work of James W. Steel (1799-1879), an accomplished Philadelphia line engraver who specialized in bank notes and line-engraving of portraits and landscapes (see Mantle Fielding). ($3,000-6,000)

Sold. Hammer: $3,400.00; Price Realized: $3,995.00

Auction 21 Abstracts

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