Dorothy Sloan -- Books


“Jacob Raphael De Cordova literally put Texas on a map”

The Preferred Large Format Edition

287.     [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, Revised & Corrected by Charles W. Pressler. Published by J.H. Colton & Co., No. 172 Williams St. New York. 1857 [altered on plate from 1851]; [below and left of title] Without my signature all copies of this map have been fraudulently obtained; [facsimile signature] J. De Cordova; [below facsimile signature] Engraved by J.M. Atwood, New York; [center above neat line] Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1856 by J. De Cordova, in the Clerks Office of the United States District Court for the District of Texas; [untitled inset rectangular map at lower right showing the Transmississippi West, southwest Canada, and northwest Mexico, neat line to neat line: 22.4 x 28 cm]; [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, 1857. Lithograph map on bank note paper with thick (2.5 cm) ornamental border, original wash and outline color, neat line to neat line: 83 x 76 cm; border to border: 90 x 82.8 cm; overall sheet size: 93.3 x 86.7 cm. Upper pocket cover only (15.8 x 10.2 cm), original red blind-embossed cloth, fancy gilt lettering on upper cover: J. De Cordova’s Texas J.H. Colton & Co. New York, printed broadside on maize paper, pasted inside cover: Maps, Atlases, Guides, Books, Etc., Published by J.H. Colton and co., 172 William St., New York… [ad below] De Cordova & Frazier, General Land Agency, City of Austin, Texas. Particular attention paid to the Collection of Debts, Payment of Taxes, and Recording Deeds to their proper Counties. Lands Located, Surveyed, and Patented at the usual rates, Numerous Tracts of Land for Sale in various parts of the State. A fine, bright copy with excellent coloring and only a few minor flaws: Five small fox marks and mild foxing (the latter generally confined to the area of juncture between the map and the cover), some folds with mild age-toning and a few minor reinforcements (no losses), one small chip to right border. Pocket cover with a few light and minor stains, small rectangular piece detached from upper right but present. Handsome copy, framed, matted, and under Plexiglas.

     Second issue of Pressler’s revision of De Cordova’s map, and Colton’s second printing after his purchase of De Cordova’s publication rights to the map. The first edition—actually signed by De Cordova, Sam Houston, and other officials—was published in Houston in 1849. See: Bryan & Hanak 23. Fifty Texas Rarities 36. Martin & Martin, Color frontispiece, Plate 39 & p. 141. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #603. Although it is often stated that only two copies of the 1849 edition exist, that is not the case, though the 1849 map is exceedingly rare in commerce. De Cordova compiled his influential map based on official surveys and drawings in the General Land Office, and on a scale far larger than any prior map of the State. Additional large-format editions followed in 1850, 1851, 1853, 1856, 1857, 1858, 1861, 1866, 1867, and as late as 1872. A small format (58 x 54 cm) edition appeared 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, like the present map, are the most elusive and preferred.

     Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, pp. 459-460:

An early commercial portrayal of Texas following its accession by the United States is J. De Cordova’s Map of the State of Texas…. It was engraved by J.M. Atwood of New York. John M. Atwood was born in Washington, D.C., in 1818 and was active as an engraver in New York City from 1838 to 1852. De Cordova’s [1849] map carries the signed endorsement of four Texas senators and representatives and the commissioner of the Texas General Land Office. Robert Creuzbaur was official draftsman for the land office. The map was, however, copyrighted by De Cordova and published as an accompaniment to his book The State of Texas; Her Capabilities and Her resources, which was published in Galveston. Below the map’s title cartouche is De Cordova’s statement that “without my signature all copies of this map have been fraudulently obtained.” Editions of De Cordova’s map were also published in 1850, 1851, 1853, 1856, and 1857. The 1856 and 1857 editions were published by J.H. Colton & company and carry the note “Revised and Corrected by Charles W. Pressler.”

     References: Day, Maps of Texas, p. 55, 61, 87, 152 (editions respectively of 1851, 1856, 1866, 1872). Eberstadt, Texas 162:241 (1850 edition): “An important and authentic map—possibly the finest of the period.” 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, “United States Army Mapping in Texas, 1848-1850” in The Mapping of the American Southwest, p. 39. Phillips, America, p. 845 (citing editions of 1848, i.e. 1849; 1851, 1853, 1856, 1857). Rumsey 3366 (1856) & 4801 (1867). Taliaferro, Cartographic Sources in the Rosenberg Library 295A, 295B & 295C (1849, 1851 & 1856 editions). 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.’”

     This 1857 edition shows the continued political and social progress of Texas settlement. Gone, for example, is the circular inset of the 1849 edition that showed Texan pretensions to a western border along the Rio Grande, the so-called Emory conformation. Here that inset has been replaced with a map showing the western United States and a Texas Panhandle border confined to its present configuration. The rapid development of the state is also indicated. In the south, for example, Hidalgo County has been carved from Starr and Cameron Counties. Webb County is also considerably reduced. In the Hill Country, many new counties have been formed, such as Llano, San Saba, and Lampasas. Transportation in West Texas has also been considerably enhanced, including the upper and lower roads from El Paso and the proposed route of the Pacific Railroad. The northern portion near the Red River also shows considerably more political organization, with many new counties shown that are not on the 1849 edition. Finally, many new geological features and settlements are shown, especially in Central and West Texas. 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 of great use to potential and actual immigrants, as well as land speculators and other commercial enterprises.

     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 traveling 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, De Cordova’s 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” (Pioneer Jewish Texans, Dallas: Texas Heritage Press, 1989, p. 61). 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, De Cordova died debt-ridden. See also Items 161 & 162 herein.