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Pocket Map Issue of Keeler’s Monumental Map of the West

61. [MAP]. KEELER, William J. National Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean. Made by the Authority of the Hon. O. H. Browning. Secretary of the Interior. In the Office of the Indian Bureau Chiefly for Government Purposes under the Direction of the Hon. N. G. Taylor. Commsr. of Indian Affairs & Hon. Chas. E. Mix Chief Clerk of the Indian Bureau: Compiled from Authorized Explorations of Pacific Rail Road Routes, Public Surveys, and Other Reliable Data from the Departments of the Government at Washington, D. C. by W. J. Keeler. Civil Engineer 1868. [below and left of title]: N. Du Bois, Draughtsman. [above neat line at lower left]: Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1867 by Wm. J. Keeler, in the Clerks Office, of the District Court, of the District of Columbia. [Washington, 1868]. Lithograph map on wove paper, original partial hand color (land offices in red, minerals keyed to color, such as blue for silver and orange for gold, etc., symbols locating forts, military posts, and railroads completed and in progress). 75.9 x 95.3 cm. Folded into pocket covers (17.5 x 11.2 cm), original purple cloth, National Map of the U. S. Territories, Pacific R.R. Routes, etc., etc. H. M. Robbins & Co., Washington, D. C. 1868 lettered in gilt on upper cover, both covers blind-embossed. Pocket covers moderately faded and with light abrasions, mild staining to pastedown of upper cover. Minor losses along some folds, expert reinforcements along several folds. Overall a fine copy.

     First edition thus. This is a reduced version, here in pocket map format, of Keeler’s monumental map, "the largest, finest and most detailed map of the West as it was then known.” Apparently there are three versions of this map, all issued with basically the same title.

     The first version, which came out in 1867, is quite common and is usually found in a larger cloth folder. Often those copies are presentation copies for official purposes. The first version measures 120.9 x 146.4 cm. For the 1867 version, see: Graff 2281. Howes K22. Martin & Martin 47. Streeter Sale 3077. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 1170 (V, pp. 211-213).

     Two versions of Keeler’s map appeared in 1868 (priority undetermined). Wheat (Mapping the Transmississippi West 1187 & V, pp. 237-238) lists an 1868 version with exactly the same title as the 1867 version preceding, but measuring considerably smaller (72.5 x 55.8 cm).

     Wheat does not list the present pocket map format, which measures between the size of the two previously mentioned versions. The title of the present map varies slightly from the 1867 version, but matches the title of Wheat’s 1868 reduced version (neither of the 1868 versions contain the phrase “J. F. Gedney, Lithographer, Engraver & Plate Printer, Washington, D.C.”). Rumsey lists the present 1868 pocket map version (, but the copy documented does not have minerals colored (our version is the same in all respects as Rumsey’s with the exception that the minerals are colored in the present copy). Rumsey comments on the present version: “This is the reduced issue with slightly more coverage in the east and more progressed railroad development. The detail is, of course, less, due to the smaller scale, and the minerals are not colored. Nonetheless it is still an excellent map of the west of its time, and is far more scarce than the larger issue of 1867.” We agree with Rumsey’s assessment regarding scarcity of the present version as compared to the 1867 official version. We sold a copy on bank note paper, rather than wove, at our Auction 18 in February 2006 @ $4,600.

     In some respects Keeler seems to have been using his maps for entrepreneurial purposes, especially those related to railroad promotion. The present pocket map version was issued by Keeler for his own purposes, whereas the 1867 large version was definitely an official publication. In fact, copies of the 1867 official version are usually always found as presentation copies by government officials and representatives, sometimes to railroad magnates.

     Besides its obvious importance as a railroad map, the map is primary documentation on Native Americans, their lands being colored in light orange. The thoroughness with which Keeler covers reservations is not surprising given his own work with the Indian Bureau. For mining, the map is key for the period, with types of minerals located, including splotches of bright yellow-orange indicating gold fields in California, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, etc. Some of these mining operations were quite new at the time, such as those in Idaho.

     Martin & Martin 47: “In 1867, seeking to take advantage of public interest in all aspects of the West, but particularly the railroad routes, William J. Keeler, an engineer working in the Indian Bureau, published a large, attractive map of the entire country west of the Mississippi.... As a product no doubt of Keeler’s own employment with the Indian Bureau, the various Indian reservations were clearly shown and identified by a color scheme, an early use of this thematic device.” Martin & Martin’s selection of Keeler’s map for their exhibit and book on Texas cartography is appropriate. Detail in Texas is excellent, and Keeler’s conformation would be borrowed for decades after its appearances in 1867 and 1868.

     Wheat ably sums up Keeler’s map as an imposing production offering something of interest for every part of the West. ($3,500-7,000)

Sold. Hammer: $5,500.00; Price Realized: $6,462.50

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