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Nell’s Rare Large-Scale 1880 map of Colorado

67. [MAP]. NELL, [Louis]. Nell’s New Topographical & Township Map of the State of Colorado Compiled from U. S. Government Surveys & Other Authentic Sources Washington D.C. 1880 Stone & Co. General Agents for Colorado 372 Larimer Str. Denver [below lower neat line] Am: Photo-Litho Co. N.Y. (Osborne’s Process) | Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1880 by Louis Nell in the Office of Librarian of Congress at Washington D.C. Washington, 1880. Photolithograph map with original outline color, mounted on linen. Neat line to neat line: 69 x 97.5 cm. General light wear, some splits and a few small voids (minimal losses), generally good.

     First issue of a map published repeatedly by various publishers, all of whom seem to use basically the same map but sometimes drawn to different scales. No matter which issue is being discussed, all of Nell’s large-scale maps of Colorado are extremely detailed and important. They demonstrate the state and its shifting county lines with great clarity and were no doubt of much use to real estate speculators, miners, railroad and transportation companies, and potential settlers.

     Ellis is uniform in his praise of all versions of Nell’s maps. Of the this first issue of Stone & Company’s map, he remarks (Colorado Mapology 83): “Townships only are shown without indication of sections. But in a number of places the unsurveyed areas have projected township lines (dotted). The county boundaries are clearly indicated. Instead of having each county tinted in some different color from the surrounding ones, here each county boundary has a colored (brilliant) shading. Thus each line that shows the boundary between two countries has two different bands of color on the two sides of the line. This is an excellent map. Enough of the mountains are shown to give an idea of the character of the country without filling up the map too much. Towns are very clearly shown with connecting wagon roads. County seats are fully identified. Elevations of many peaks are shown. Tables on the side of the map give area of counties, of arable lands by basins, and the astronomical positions of seven main towns. However, the county list includes only 31 counties. The railroads shown on this map are much further advanced.”

     Louis Nell (1842- ), a German emigrant, quickly became recognized as an efficient surveyor shortly after he arrived in the United States. The U.S. Army hired him as a chief topographer to explore west of the hundredth meridian, and he assisted with topographic surveys for the U.S. Geological Survey under Wheeler. He settled in Denver and began issuing Colorado maps in 1880, revising them periodically as the need arose. He was the most important Colorado topographer of his time, and his maps were not only a commercial success, but also a benchmark for Colorado cartography. ($2,500-5,000)

Sold. Hammer: $4,400.00; Price Realized: $5,170.00

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