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October 26, 2007

Early, Ephemeral Railroad Map of Denver Vicinity

74. [MAP]. BOHM, C[harles]. Untitled map of Denver and Cheyenne region [above lower neat line] C. Bohm-Eng-Denver-C. N.p., n.d. [Denver, ca. 1865 (based on postal markings)]. Lithograph map printed on verso of yellow envelope with postal mark for Denver, January 7, and postage-due stamp of three cents. Envelope measures 7.8 x 13 cm. Left side neatly trimmed where opened, costing right neat line and small part of image. Very good. The envelope is addressed to Mrs. Molly Neysinger in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

            First edition. Not in standard sources. McMurtrie & Allen (Early Printing in Colorado...1859-1876 #176) record Hand-Book of Colorado for Citizen and Traveler... (Denver, 1873), which has a map (Map of Boulder and Vicinity) by Bohm, similar in its simple style to the present map, which shows the greater Denver area with its railroad connections, South Platte River, and the gold, silver, iron, and coal fields to the west. Cheyenne is shown to the north.

            Charles Bohm is listed, along with Henry Bohm, as an engraver at the corner of Curtis and E Streets in J. E. Wharton’s History of the City of Denver from Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. To Which is Added a Full and Complete Business Directory of the City, by D. O. Wilhelm. Denver: Byers & Dailey, Printers, News Office, 1866 (see p. 132). Bohm’s home in Denver is now the Holiday Chalet, a Victorian bed and breakfast. Bohm is briefly mentioned in reviews and lists of Western photographers, and he and his brother were also jewelers. Bohm is discussed at some length on a website relating to the restoration of historical architecture in Denver, due to his having owned the land that became Bohm Addition. From that web site

Charles Bohm was the namesake and founder of [Bohm’s Subdivision in Denver], and he cut a rather unique figure in Denver’s realty development. Born in Hanau-on-the-Main, Germany in 1846, Bohm’s family had come to the United States to escape the democratic Revolution of 1848. For many years they lived in New Jersey, where Charles became an apprentice in the design and engraving business. He excelled at his craft, and soon obtained work in the renowned diamond firm of Durant & Company. After a two-year excursion to Denver, he returned to New York, where he designed copper plates, illustrated city magazines, and organized the prestigious Palette Art Club. In 1872, Bohm returned to Denver for good, setting up a business offering design, engraving, and portraiture. It was, after all, the golden age of early photography, with the once-exclusive imagery growing in public esteem and general use. The shop he set up with Charles Perry did not profit from its lithographic work, but photographic portraiture proved popular.

From the strength of this business, he found the means to dabble in Denver society. He was involved in civic affairs, as trustee for both the Denver Union Water Company and the library association. He loved speed, not only as subscriber to the Gentlemen’s Driving Association and horse racer at the Broadway speeding track, but also as participant in an 1880 sleighing race. And he remained proud of his German roots throughout, doing much to build up the German Turnverein.

The dating is based on a postal history scholar’s interpretation of the postal markings, who remarked: “The map on the reverse is, effectively, an engineer’s rendition of what the future might bring, and the envelope is from the early to mid 1860s based on the cancellation.” ($500-1,000)

Sold. Hammer: $600.00; Price Realized: $705.00

Auction 21 Abstracts

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