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AUCTION 22

 

Pocket Map of U.S. Railroad Lines in 1856


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295.     [MAP]. FISHER, Richard S. (compiler). Dinsmore’s Complete Map of the Railroads & Canals in the United States & Canada Carefully Compiled from Authentic Sources by Richard S. Fisher, Editor of the American Rail Road & Steam Navigation Guide. New York. John G. Wells, Publishing Agent, No. 11 Beekman Street Depot for Maps, Charts, Guides, Books, Prints, &c. Adapted to the Wants of Traveling Agents. 1856. Entered According to Act of Congress in the year 1856 by Dinsmore & Co in the Clerks Office of the District Court of the U.S. for the Southern District of New York [lower right, untitled inset map of America from Greenland to southern Brazil]. New York: John G. Wells, 1856. Lithograph map within ornate border, printed on thin wove paper, original hand coloring (states tinted pastel, boundaries brightly outlined in gesso-enhanced primary colors), neat line to neat line: 60 x 74 cm; border to border: 66 x 79.2 cm; overall sheet size: 69.7 x 84 cm, folded into original blind-stamped brown cloth pocket covers (16 x 10.5 cm), upper cover gilt lettered: U.S. Railroad Map. J.G. Wells, publisher’s printed broadside with ads used as pastedown on inside upper cover. Map slightly wrinkled with a few minor spots and stains (primarily confined to center left margin where the map was pasted to pocket covers), small void (approximately .5 x 1 cm) to cloth upper cover, otherwise very good.

     The predecessor for the present map was an uncolored map published in 1850 in the American Railway Guide (Modelski, Railroad Maps of the United States 16). That map was republished several times, including an 1854 edition (the Library of Congress has a copy). The 1850 map differs from the present map, the earlier map being slightly smaller, without the ornate border, and with an inset of New York showing the Harlem Railroad. There were three versions of the map in 1856, all of which are slightly larger and all of which update the 1850 prototype. In one version, the New York-Harlem Railroad inset has been retained (Modelski 30), and another version is also larger, but omits the inset (see note to Modelski 30). The present map (not in Modelski) adds three features: an ornate border, an entirely new inset (the American continent from Greenland to southern Brazil), and eye-catching tinting with bright outline coloring. What was formerly a black-and-white utilitarian map underwent a makeover, transforming it from a rather drab but highly useful tool of travel to a striking cartographical artifact meant for mass appeal. Modelski (p. iii) comments that railroad maps like this, issued by commercial publishers intended for ticket agents and the public as road guides, encouraged commerce and travel. Dinsmore published several guides to railroad and other types of travel, which were continuously updated to reflect the reality of the rapidly expanding, intricate web of railroads that began to cover the U.S. in the nineteenth century. Examination of the Ohio portion of Dinsmore’s map in the 1850, 1854, and 1859 editions to accompany his Railroad and Steamship Guide document the care that he (and other commercial publishers like him) took to update their information.

     The present map illustrates the eastern half of the United States as far west as San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Fort Atkinson. Lower Canada and southern New Brunswick are shown. Relief is indicated by hachure; also indicated are rivers, drainage, bodies of water, state and international boundaries, and proposed, projected, and operating railroads. All of the contributors to the map are noted in Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers, revised edition. Fisher, editor of the Journal of the American Geographical and Statistical Society, specialized in writing text and statistical data to accompany maps and atlases and worked for Colton, among others. Wells published a pocket hand-book of Iowa in 1857, and Dinsmore pumped out his transportation guides to an eager U.S. market.

($750-1,500)

Sold. Hammer: $750.00; Price Realized: $900.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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