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Auction 13: A Few Good Maps & Manuscripts

Lot 10

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10. [MAP]. DE CORDOVA, J[acob Raphael] & Robert Creuzbaur. 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, 1854. Inset text at upper left: Reference to Land Districts. Lower left: Official certification with pictorial seals of the State of Texas and the Texas General Land Office and facsimile signatures of De Cordova, Sam Houston, et al. Lower right inset: Untitled oval map of the Transmississippi West (16 x 20.3 cm; 6-5/16 x 8 inches). Engraved map in original full color. 58 x 54 cm (22-7/8 x 21-1/4 inches). The map bears an ink manuscript note of certification by Theophilus Kramer and a few other of Kramer’s ink notations (locating gold, silver, and pearls in Texas). The map came to us framed with the following curious accumulation of items: (1) Document signed by French revolutionist Maximilien Robespierre, dated May 11, 1794; (2) Seven engraved nineteenth-century prints from an illustrated English periodical (railroad, lighthouse, ship, etc.); (3) Five printed labels, one of which is dated 1860 and seems to indicate that Ignatzius Kirner of No. 3 Second Street—New York acted as an agent for Kramer, perhaps for his medications; the other four labels are for Kramer’s patent medications (Choctaw Pearls; Anti-Cholera and Anti-Dyssentery [sic] Drops; Electro-Magnetic Liniment...A Superior Remedy for Chronic Rheumatism and Neuralgia; Indian Wa-A-Hoo Bark Stomach Cordial...Especially for the Ladies). We have not been able to determine how these extraneous materials might relate to De Cordova (other than to conclude that speculations relating to Texas, now as ever, are rampant and imaginative). We have chosen to retain the extra material with the map, should someone wish to research the matter. This map came into our hands in rough condition, but it has now been professionally conserved and is quite respectable. The three layers of material in the frame were separated and gently cleaned and deacidified by hand. The map, which was split at folds, has been laid down on acid-free Japanese tissue, and tears have been repaired. There are a few small voids at old splits and some age-toning and oxidation. Full conservation report available upon request. The map is trimmed close at borders (small losses of line border at all four corners), age-toned, and with occasional mild staining and creasing. All editions of De Cordova’s map are exceedingly rare in commerce, especially the present edition.

     This 1854 edition of De Cordova's important and valuable Texas map was the last published version before he sold the rights to J. H. Colton of New York (this 1854 edition was the last to have a Texas imprint). The present map is smaller in format than the other editions of De Cordova's important map of Texas, which first appeared in 1849. The other editions of De Cordova's map measure approximately 88.2 x 84 cm. Numerous changes and additions were made to this 1854 edition, and the oval map of the Transmississippi West now reflects the Compromise of 1850 and other geo-political developments.

     Regarding the historical importance of De Cordova’s map of Texas: Basic Texas Books 38n: “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.’” Fifty Texas Rarities #36n (citing the 1849 issue): “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.” Martin & Martin, Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900 #39: “De Cordova employed Robert Creuzbaur, an employee of the General Land Office, to assist him in compiling a new map of Texas for publication in 1849, and their map was one of the first major cartographic productions after annexation to be based upon the records of the General Land Office. With the political geography of the state changing almost daily, the map became an important document for immigration into Texas, particularly since the recent termination of the war with Mexico had permanently secured the Texas boundary”; Contours of Discovery, p. 57: “To meet the needs of new immigrants coming into the state, roads and rivers as well as the political divisions were carefully drawn.”

     Regarding the rarity of the 1854 edition of De Cordova’s map, Yale owns Streeter’s photocopy of the New York Public Library copy of the 1854 edition. We trace no other institutional holdings for the 1854 edition, other than the New York Public Library copy. However, we know of another copy in private hands. The Texas State Library owns copies of the editions of 1851, 1856, 1866, and 1872. The Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin does not own a copy of the 1854 edition, nor does the University of Texas at Arlington. The Rosenberg Library in Galveston owns three editions (1849, 1851, and 1856), but not this 1854 edition. The Library of Congress also lacks the 1854 edition, but has those of 1849, 1851, 1853, 1856, and 1857. James M. Day in his biography of De Cordova (Jacob de Cordova: Land Merchant of Texas, Waco: Heritage Society of Waco, 1962) carefully sets out the various editions of De Cordova’s map but does not mention this 1854 edition. Someone should publish a new biography of De Cordova with a complete cartobibliography of the various incarnations of his Texas map, a full-size color reproduction of each, and a comparative analysis of alterations to the map.

     Regarding the cartographer: “Jacob de Cordova [1808-1868] came to Texas in 1837 and quickly became one of the new republic’s most active promoters. He was responsible for a number of influential pamphlets and guidebooks. Hoping to cash in on the expected land boom following the Mexican War, De Cordova commissioned Robert Creuzbaur, an employee of the Texas General Land Office, to compile this map from the agency’s records. The result is a very accurate and detailed map. Texas is shown in extremely large scale, with counties colored. De Cordova follows Austin’s format in omitting all of Texas west of the hundred and first meridian from his map. Creuzbaur followed Austin’s format and used an inset to show the western part of the state” (Taliaferro 295). For more information on De Cordova, consult Natalie Ornish’s article in the Handbook of Texas Online.

     Why De Cordova published this 1854 edition and why it is so rare is a mystery that remains to be solved by a qualified researcher. We can only engage in idle speculation, but perhaps De Cordova decided to create one last edition of his map before he sold the rights to Colton. And perhaps De Cordova intended to use the present map in his Texas promotional ventures and publications. Certainly a smaller format version would be more convenient for folding into a pamphlet or book.      ($30,000-$50,000)

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