Dorothy Sloan -- Books

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October 26, 2007

Exquisite Steel-Engraved Map

106. [MAP]. LAUGHLIN, H. H. H. H. Laughlin’s Miniature County Map of the United States. Engraved by J. H. Goldthwait. Philadelphia Published 1845 Steel Plate. Philadelphia: H. H. Laughlin, 1845. [below neat line] Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1843, by H. H. Laughlin in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the western District of Pennsylvania. Steel-engraved map with bright red original outlining, [four insets]: [1] N. Part of Michigan; [2] N. Part of Maine; [3] Plan of Washington; [4] S. Part of Florida; surrounded by 38 miniature vignettes (city views, architecture, natural wonders, including several of Niagara Falls), neat line to neat line: 27.4 x 33 cm. Pocket map on bank note paper folded into original blind-embossed teal cloth covers (14 x 9.5 cm) lettered in gilt on front: Laughlin’s United States Map. Covers slightly faded; map with a few clean splits at folds (no losses) and some faint browning, generally very good.

            Not in Phillips. A finely engraved map that amply demonstrates the superior qualities of steel as an engraving medium, which is here skillfully and beautifully exploited. The map shows the U. S. west to the Indian Territory just beyond Iowa and to the eastern border of Texas and north to the borders of Vermont and New Hampshire. Although the map is too small for considerable detail, the engraver did manage to show every county and county seat, along with the each area’s capital, including Madison, Wisconsin, which was not incorporated until the following year, although the capital itself was laid out in 1837.

            The stunning border vignettes, however, set this map apart. Rendered on a scale so tiny that details strain the naked eye, each is a magnificent rendering of its subject, often with minor embellishments such as horses and tiny people in the scenes. Niagara Falls seems to hold special fascination because the six views of it are the most of any subject. Although most of the subjects depicted are in the East, there is a fine view of the state house in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Saint Anthony’s Falls in Minnesota, a territory not even shown on the map itself. The view of New Haven Green and Yale College is exquisite, beautifully capturing the long-disappeared elms. A fine copy of a rare, unusual map. ($600-1,200)

Auction 21 Abstracts

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