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October 26, 2007

De Cordova Map of Texas in Original Large Format – 1861

92. [MAP]. DE CORDOVA, J[acob Raphael]. J. De Cordova’s Map of the State of Texas Compiled from the Records of the General Land Office of the State, by Robert Creuzbaur. Published by J. H. Colton, No 172, William St. New York. 1861. Printed by Lang & Laing, 117, Fulton St. N.Y. Without my signature all copies of this map have been fraudulently obtained. [facsimile signature] J. De Cordova [center above neat line] Entered according to Act of Congress on the 28th. Day of July 1848 by J. De Cordova, in the Clerk’s Office of the United States District Court for the District of Texas. [untitled inset map area from western Texas to the Pacific Ocean, including California and New Mexico and Utah Territories, neat line to neat line: 22.7 x 27.7 cm] [table at upper left indicating counties into which land districts fall] Reference to Land Districts [at lower left are seals of Texas and the Texas General Land Office along with certifications with facsimile signatures of Thomas J. Rusk, Sam Houston, David S. Kaufman, T. Pilsbury, John C. Hays, W. D. Miller, George T. Wood, Thomas W. Ward, George W. Smyth]. New York: J. H. Colton, 1861. Lithograph map with ornate vine border with original wash and outline color, border to border: 89 x 89 cm. Overall light age toning, coloring somewhat faded, creased where formerly folded, small losses along a few folds, professionally backed.

     First issued by De Cordova in 1849, followed by editions of 1850, 1851, 1853, 1856, 1857, 1858, 1861, 1866, 1867, and as late as 1872. A version came out in small format (58 x 54 cm) in 1854 just before De Cordova sold the rights to his large map to Colton. Colton published a reduced version of the map in his 1856 Atlas of the World, and this became the most universal map of Texas in the latter half of the nineteenth century, being found repeatedly in Colton’s atlases and other places as well. The large format versions, as in the present map, are the most elusive and preferred. “The 1849 edition has only two copies located. Eberstadt called the 1849 issue ‘possibly the finest [Texas map] of the period.’ Colton changed the inset map from the oval showing all of Texas to the southwestern portion of Colton’s U.S. atlas map.... With a list of the Land districts, this map was useful for both land promoters and settlers” (Rumsey 3366, citing the 1856 edition). In 1858, De Cordova published his encyclopedic work: Texas: Her Resources and Her Public Men. A Companion for J. De Cordova’s New and Correct Map of the State of Texas....

     Bryan & Hanak #23 (1849 edition). Day, Maps of Texas, p. 55, 61, 87, 152 (editions respectively of 1851, 1856, 1866, 1872). Fifty Texas Rarities 36n (citing the 1849 edition): “Only nineteen years separate this map and Stephen F. Austin’s, yet the contrast between the two is striking. During those years, Texas had been a part of Mexico, an independent republic, and a state of the U.S.” Graff 920 (1849 edition). Contours of Discovery, p. 57 (1849 edition): “To meet the needs of new immigrants coming into the state, roads and rivers as well as the political divisions were carefully drawn.” Martin & Martin, Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900, Color frontispiece, Plate 39 & p. 141 (1849 edition): “One of the first major cartographic productions after annexation to be based upon the records of the General Land Office.” Phillips, America, p. 845 (citing editions of 1848, i.e. 1849; 1851, 1853, 1856, 1857). Taliaferro 295A, 295B & 295C (1849, 1851 & 1856 editions). Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 603 (1849 edition). See also Basic Texas Books 38 (referring to the 1849 edition): “Sam Houston delivered a speech praising the map on the floor of the U.S. Senate...assert[ing] that it was `the most correct and authentic map of Texas ever compiled.’”

     Shown on a large scale are boundaries of land districts, Native American villages, cities and towns, post offices, colonies (e.g., Fisher and Miller German colony), forts, roads, ferries, missions. Jacob Raphael De Cordova (1808-1868), a Jamaican native, came to Texas by way of Philadelphia after his health was damaged by the severe northern winters. Once in Texas, he became the most enthusiastic and best-known promoter of the State since Stephen F. Austin, even travelling back East to give lectures about the wonders of his newly found home. Not just a starry-eyed dreamer, however, he accumulated what was probably the largest amount of land scrip in private hands, at one point controlling about a million acres, all of which earned him the title of “Publicist of an Empire.” In addition to his real estate activities, he was also active in civic, political, and fraternal affairs. He laid out Waco and sold land lots there. As Natalie Ornish points out, his land business was so successful, “it was a quasi-official immigration department of the Texas Government and became the largest land agency that ever operated in the Southwest”(p. 61 in Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage Press, 1989). Ornish also comments: "Jacob Raphael De Cordova literally put Texas on a map" (p. 58). See also Ornish’s article in Handbook of Texas Online: Jacob Raphael De Cordova). Ironically, he died debt-ridden. ($20,000-40,000)

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