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October 26, 2007

“Contains details not to be found in other maps of this same country”
(Royal Geographic Society, 1885)

99. [MAP]. HERBERT, Charles E. 1884 Mapa oficial del estado de Sonora República de México levantado y ejecutado de medidas, reconocimientos proprios y de otras fuentes fidedignas. Por el Ingeniero Civil C. E. Herbert. Official Map of the State of Sonora Republic of Mexico Compiled from Surveys, Reconnoissances and Other Sources. 1884 by Chas. E. Herbert. C.E. [lower center in image] Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1884 by Chas. E. Herbert in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D.C. [lower right: list of authorities & key] [three insets at upper right] [1] Vista a Guaymas [lower right in image] Moss Eng. Co. NY [view] [2] El Puerto de Guaymas [map] [3] Vista de Alamos [view], 2 cartouches below (the one in Spanish featuring a prominent eagle, the seal of Sonora, and an approval by Governor Luís E. Torres dated October 1884), compass rose at lower center. N.p., n.d. [Washington, D.C., 1884]. Lithograph map within grapevine and star border, original outline color, border to border: 60 x 72.5 cm. Mounted on contemporary cartographical linen, folded into original plain terracotta cloth covers (17.2 x 11 cm). Some minor losses at folds, pocket folder rubbed, faded, with a few snags on lower cover, lining paper and hinge of folder somewhat deteriorating, otherwise very good. At lower right ink stamp of New York map publisher Colton. A few roads are traced in contemporary purple crayon. Also, various quadrants are outlined in contemporary green crayon, all lettered in pencil.

            Second edition. This edition appears to have been prepared by photolitho reduction of a very rare larger version in Spanish, which is usually dated 1885 and may be identified by a table at lower right reading Algunos datos oficiales sobre el estado de Sonora and by its size (approximately 114 x 140 cm), illustrated in El Territorio mexicano, Mexico: Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, 1982, Vol. II, p. 568. The map was also issued as found here, but with the date changed to 1885 (copies at Library of Congress, UCLA, and Royal Geographic Society, the latter with date changed by pasteover). The present edition (dated 1884) is not in standard cartographical sources, although Phillips (America) lists an 1885 edition (p. 792). F.J.H. Merrill lists an undated version of the map (Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, Vol. 38, No. 5, 1906, pp. 285). Numerous subsequent editions and revisions of the map appeared as late as 1920, and many were sold by the Sonora News Company, a Mexican railway depot news dealer that also traded in crafts, curios, and antiques. All editions appear to be rare in commerce and scarce even among institutional holdings.

            In its 1885 Proceedings, the Royal Geographical Society remarked: “This drawn on a larger scale than any yet published, and contains details not to be found in other maps of this same country” (p. 413). The map was apparently intended for use by potential investors or land purchasers in Sonora, especially those interested in mines, which, along with coal fields, are specifically noted. This copy has the added feature of quadrants set out in contemporary green crayon, which would seem to indicate areas of potential investment. Certain areas are also briefly highlighted in red and blue crayon. On the whole, this is a beautifully detailed map of the area that sets forth its physical features, towns, roads, rivers, ranches, and railroads in minute form. The map also shows the Eastern coast of Baja, California, and the far southern part of Arizona. Although this map may seem late, it represented a genuine advance in the mapping of Mexico, which was poorly understood geographically at the time.

            Although praising Herbert’s map of Sonora as “good,” Merrill, concerned primarily with mining interests, decries the lack of accuracy in Mexican maps available at the time. Because of its emphasis on mines, this map, as Merrill intimates, would have been an important one at the time of its publication. ($2,000-4,000)

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