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Texas, California, the Southwest U.S., Mexico & the Borderlands:
Interesting books, broadsides, maps & ephemera

Lot 32

Highly original thematic maps of North America

32. GILPIN, William. The Central Gold Region. The Grain, Pastoral, and Gold Regions of North America. With Some New Views of its Physical Geography; and Observations on the Pacific Railroad. By William Gilpin. Illustrated with Maps. Philadelphia: Sower, Barnes & Co.; St. Louis: E. K. Woodward, 1860. 194 pp., 6 folding lithographic maps (some colored). 8vo, original blind-stamped dark brown ribbed cloth, spine gilt lettered. Spine neatly repaired, binding with some light to moderate abrading and edge wear, front hinge open (but holding strong), interior fine, maps very fine and fresh, with only a few short tears at juncture with text block (no losses).

Map List

[1]     Gilpin’s Hydrographic Map of North America.... Neat line to neat line: 20.4 x 26.8 cm; 8 x 10-1/2 inches. Partial color. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 1010: “The chief basins and valleys are portrayed, and the Oregon Route up the Platte, though meagerly. This same edition [Gilpin’s book] contains a number of other interesting maps [lists maps 2, 3, 4, 5 following].”

[2]     Hydrographic Map of the Mountain Formation of North America.... Neat line to neat line: 28.5 x 20 cm; 11-1/4 x 7-7/8 inches. Partial color.

[3]     Map of the World, Exhibiting the Isothermal Zodiak.... Neat line to neat line: 20 x 38.4 cm; 7-7/8 x 15-1/4 inches. Partial color.


[4]     Map of the Gold and Silver Region of Pike’s Peak, Sierras San Juan and La Plata. Entire image including title and imprint: 30.5 x 26.2 cm (12 x 10-1/4 inches). Uncolored. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 1011.

[5]     Map of the South Pass of North America...Proposed Great Continental Rail Road. Entire image including title and imprint: 16.5 x 20.3 cm; 6-1/2 x 8 inches. Uncolored.

[6]     Map of the Basin of the Mississippi.... Neat line to neat line: 20.4 x 32 cm; 8-1/8 x 12-5/8 inches. Full color.

     First edition. Braislin 834. Graff 1556. Howell, California 50:489: “Gilpin crossed the Plains in 1843 and claims to have spent the 4th of July, 1843 with Frémont on the site of Denver.” Holliday 432. Howes G192. Munk (Alliot), p. 87. Plains & Rockies IV:358: “Gilpin first crossed the plains to Oregon in 1843 with the Frémont expedition [and] remained involved with the Rocky Mountain West.... He was an early advocate of the Pacific Railway ...and later became governor of Colorado Territory.” Rocq 15831. Sabin 27468. Tutorow 4069: “Gilpin was a major in the Missouri Mounted Volunteers during the Mexican War.” Wheat, Transmississippi West 1010 & 1011.

     Gilpin presents his concept of United States’ greatness to create a ringing endorsement of Manifest Destiny. Gilpin has little doubts about the lush prospects of the area or of the ability of U.S. citizens to render the West profitable and abundant. Gilpin discusses the building a transnational railroad, and the appendix includes his address presented at the Great National Railroad Convention held in St. Louis in 1849. Leroy R. Hafen in Pike’s Peak Gold Rush Guidebooks of 1859 (Glendale: Arthur H. Clark, 1941) remarks, “Gilpin has been called the Prophet of the West” (p. 241).     

     The highly original thematic maps of North America complement the author’s accompanying geo-political essay. The maps include a hydrographic map of North America with dramatic concentric circles radiating from the Great Plains, a map of the gold and silver region of pre-Territorial Colorado, and a map of South Pass with suggested transcontinental rail route. Speaking of the prescient nature of Gilpin’s 1848 Hydrographic Map of North America (which appears in smaller format in the present work; see Map [1] in above list), Robert Karrow remarks: “The ideas that continents have centers and peripheries and that the physical disposition of mountains, plains, and rivers create geographical pressures, with long-term impacts on populations and the wealth of nations, were very new in Gilpin’s day. It was not until the early twentieth century, in the work of the geographer Sir Halford Mackinder, that such notions were given academic stature and a name: geopolitics.... Where others saw a ‘great American desert,’ he saw a region as central to American development as the Mediterranean Sea was to Rome.... Where others saw the Rockies and the Great disagreeable obstacles to be passed over as quickly as possible, Gilpin saw a region of unparalleled advantage.... It was the vision of Jefferson, heated by the spirit of ‘manifest destiny,’ inspired by the achievements of the Oregon pioneers, nourished by doubtful science, and larded with exclamation points and purple prose” (in Paul E. Cohen, Mapping the West: America’s Westward Movement 1524-1890, pp. 145-148). See also the excellent commentary of William H. Goetzmann in Exploration and Empire (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1991, p. 88). ($500-1,000)

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