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AUCTION 20

 

50. [MAP]. DISTURNELL, J[ohn]. Mapa de los Estados Unidos De Méjico, Segun lo organizado y definido por las varias actas del Congreso de dicha República: y construido por las mejores autoridades. Lo publican J. Disturnell, 102 Broadway. Nueva York. 1846. [inset lower left, in facsimile] Carta de los caminos &c. desde Vera Cruz y Alvarado a Méjico. [two insets left center] Tabla De Distancias [and] Tabla Estadistica [“Texas” scrubbed off by engraver] [upper right: large engraving of Mexican eagle with snake in its beak, perched on cactus with names of Mexican states lettered on pads, with “Texas” scrubbed off by engraver]. New York, 1846. Copperplate engraving on two sheets of strong, thin paper joined vertically, original hand coloring (outline, shading, and wash). 74.2 x 100 cm (the map extends beyond neat line at upper left). Folded into pocket covers (15 x 10 cm), original red cloth, Mexico lettered in gilt on upper cover, both covers blind-embossed, printed leaf affixed to verso of front board: Statistics of the Republic of Mexico. With contemporary ink signature of “Lieut. Mason” on upper cover. Pocket covers lightly stained and rubbed, inner paper lining of spine wanting. Map with some minor offsetting. Some folds expertly reinforced. Two tears (approximately 10 cm and 26 cm) at lower center and lower left expertly closed (no losses). Inset map at lower left supplied in expert facsimile. Wool’s 1846 route between San Antonio and Coahuila is traced in contemporary red ink.

     Although we cannot with certainty identify the former owner, a “Lieut. Mason” was one of the U.S. troops at Thornton’s Skirmish, the first battle of the Mexican-American War, according to Capt. William J. Hardee’s April 26, 1846, report to Zachary Taylor. Because it was fought on Texas soil, Thornton’s Skirmish became the casus belli for the war. (See Garrett & Goodwin, The Mexican-American War, p. 631.)

     “Second Edition.” Martin, “Disturnell’s Map” in Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America Edited by Hunter Miller, p. 347. Streeter Sale 254: “This Disturnell map with the 1846 date on the title follows so closely the White, Gallaher map of 1828 that Col. Martin in his Disturnell's Map calls it a reprint of the 1828 map and in his listing of 24 editions of the Disturnell map lists it as ‘Second Edition.’ However, Disturnell here departs from the White, Gallaher map and the original Tanner prototype of 1825 by showing the boundary between Alta and Baja California as a straight line running east and west from below the mouth of the Gila to about 50 miles south of San Diego. The northeast-southwest line of the White, Gallaher and the Tanner maps ended on the Pacific about 120 miles south of San Diego. Wheat characterizes the 1846 edition as a ‘famous’ map and quotes extensively from Col. Martin's account of it.” Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 540 & Vol. III, pp. 35-36, 45.

     See also: Bauer Sale 118. Eberstadt, Texas 162:256. Holliday Sale 299. Martin & Martin, Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900, pp. 37-38, 137-139. Phillips, America, p. 410. Rittenhouse, Disturnell’s Treaty Map, pp. 15-18. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, Plate 170 & p. 276. Wheat, The Maps of the California Gold Region 33.

     This influential map originated in 1822 when Philadelphia publisher Henry S. Tanner issued his Map of North America. Using the southwestern portion of that map, Tanner in 1825 published his Map of the United States of Mexico, which was printed from entirely new copper plates depicting only Mexico as it existed at the time. In 1826 he reissued the map with the Mexican border moved significantly to the north.

     In 1828, the New York firm of White, Gallaher and White published a map entitled Mapa de los Estados Unidos de Mexico that showed the Mexican border in the same position as it appeared on Tanner’s 1826 version. There is considerable disagreement on the relationship between Tanner’s 1826 map and the subsequent White, Gallaher and White map. Some authorities state that the latter plagiarized; others say merely that they copied. It would be disingenuous to say that White, Gallaher and White were completely unaware of Tanner’s map, but the former did go to the trouble and expense of providing a new map printed from new copper plates that showed a far wider area than Tanner’s map did, although it did contain some of the same information, as the insets make quite obvious.

     White, Gallaher and White’s actual printing plates were subsequently acquired by New York publisher John Disturnell, who modified them by substituting his own name in the imprint area and in other ways. (White, Gallaher and White’s copyright notice is still faintly visible on most copies in the lower right-hand corner just below the neat line, as here.) The first issue of Disturnell’s map appeared in 1846 and numerous issues were put out by him until 1848, all printed from the same copper plates that underwent various modifications for each new issue.

     This issue varies in some ways from Martin’s “Seventh Edition,” which is legendary in the history of Mexican-American relations. Although widely known to be inaccurate, copies of it were, nevertheless, used by the negotiators at the end of the Mexican-American War to set the boundary between the two countries. Because of major errors on the map involving the location of El Paso (present-day Ciudad Juarez) and the Rio Grande River, a serious dispute arose about the parallel along which to run the actual boundary. After many surveyors and years, a line was finally run; it was, however, unsatisfactory to the United States because it ran too far north and left the prime area for the southern route of a transcontinental railroad in Mexico proper. Because of that location, the United States was obliged to buy the land from Mexico with the Gadsden Purchase. Some idea of the confusion that resulted may be inferred from the fact that although copies of the map were attached to both the Mexican and the United States’ copies of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, not even those two maps were identical—the one attached to the United States copy was the seventh edition, and the one attached to the Mexican copy was the twelfth—although they varied in no significant details. ($5,000-10,000)

Sold. Hammer: $8,500.00; Price Realized: $9,987.50

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