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AUCTION 20

45. [MAP]. BRITTON & REY. Map of the City of San Francisco Published by Britton & Rey Lithographers. Montgomery St. cor. of Comml. Sts. San Francisco. N.p., n.d. [San Francisco, ca. 1856]. Lithograph map on wove paper, orientation north to right, narrow ornamental border, scale: 1-1/2 inches = 800 varas. Border to border: 33.4 x 39 cm. Creased where formerly folded to panel size of 17.9 x 11 cm. Tiny losses along one fold, a few minor losses in blank margins, some light spotting, otherwise very good.

     The date of ca. 1856 is based on the map’s apparent publication history (see below) and on the existence of numerous features, such as Telegraph Hill (named 1853), Yerba Buena Cemetery (established 1850), and various wharves, all of which were in existence in the early 1850s, except for North Point wharf, which is not shown but which was constructed in 1853. Present-day Union Square (named just before the Civil War) is still shown as a “Plaza.” Another clue to dating the map is found in Peters (California on Stone 162), who locates Britton & Rey at the corner of Montgomery and Commercial Streets, as above, between 1854 and 1858. In the vein of many depictions of San Francisco at the time, this map shows areas filled in to extend the waterfront, house lots, some buildings, and a finely detailed waterfront.

     This map is a version of the one that appeared in Samuel Colville’s 1856-1857 San Francisco directory (Quebedeaux 69), apparently after its initial appearance in a report of April 19, 1856, by the commission which named the Western Addition streets. In the version here, the street names and blocks on the left side of the map have been supplied, whereas in the Colville version, that area is bascially blank; otherwise, they are identical.  It may also have been sold as a separate. Britton & Rey created several early, significant maps of San Francisco that were issued in various formats: letter sheet (Baird 149), separates or pocket maps (Streeter Sale 3890 and 3905), and as insertions in books or directories.

     Dr. Hart (Companion to California, p. 52) discusses the firm of Britton & Rey: “The firm of [Britton & Rey] in San Francisco (1852-92), the oldest west of the Rocky Mts., also engaged in printing, engraving, and decoration on tin. The senior partner, Joseph Britton (1820-1901), was a Yorkshireman who went to California in 1849. His brother-in-law, Jacques Joseph Rey (1820-92), an Alsatian, joined him in other businesses, including some financing of the dirigible of Frederick Marriott. Britton was also active as a Supervisor in San Francisco on the People’s Party ticket and as a financier of Hallidie’s first cable car line.” See also Peters’s long article (California on Stone, pp. 62-89 & plate 1), in which he refers to Britton & Rey as “the Currier & Ives of the West.” ($750-1,500)

Sold. Hammer: $1,200.00; Price Realized: $1,410.00

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