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October 26, 2007

Foundation of Modern U.S. Road Maps

110. [MAP]. MITCHELL, S[amuel] Augustus. Mitchell’s Traveller’s Guide through the United States, Containing the Principal Cities, Towns, &c Alphabetically Arranged; Together with the Stage, Steam-Boat, Canal, and Rail-Road Routes, with the Distances, in Miles, from Place to Place. Philadelphia: Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., n.d. [1845]. 78 pp., steel-engraved map on parchment paper, original outline hand coloring, neat line to neat line 43.5 x 55 cm: Mitchell’s Travellers Guide through the United States. A Map of the Roads, Distances, Steam Boat & Canal Routes &c. by J. H. Young Philadelphia. 1845. Sold by Thomas, Cowperthwaite & Co. No. 253 Market Street. Engraved on Steel by J. H. Young & D. Haines [at right below neat line] Entered According to Act of Congress, in the Year 1834 by S. Augustus Mitchell, in the Clerks Office of the District Court, of the Eastern District, of Pennsylvania [8 insets around the map clockwise from upper left] Vicinity of Cincinnati; Vicinity of Albany; Vicinity of the Falls of Niagara; Vicinity of New York; Vicinity of Charleston; Vicinity of Baltimore and Washington; Vicinity of Philadelphia; Vicinity of Boston. Folded into original pocket covers (13.5 x 8.3 cm), original tan roan, lettered in gilt on upper cover (Mitchell’s Travellers Guide through the United States), both covers blind-embossed, marbled wrappers (upper wrapper used as pastedown). Pocket covers very fine. Map reattached at early date, minor splitting along some folds (with a few tiny losses). Overall very fine. Several canal routes through Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York shown in blue ink; several of the insets also have such markings.

            The first edition of this road map came out in 1832, text was added beginning in 1834, and thereafter continually updated and enlarged (see Howes M690; Clark, Travels in the Old South III:74n & Phillips, America, p. 886 [1832 issue]). Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, p. 255: “Internal improvements coupled with the great Irish and German migrations beginning in 1827 led to the production of traveler’s guides that depicted roads and their distances, steamboat and canal routes, and lengths of principal railroads.... In 1832 Samuel Augustus Mitchell first issued his ‘Traveller’s Guide through the United States’ and complimented it two years later with ‘Tourist Pocket Maps’ of the different states. These early works and their multitudinous progeny over the next fifty years laid the foundation for the road maps of today.”

            Prominent among the routes shown are the recently completed National Road extending from Cumberland, Maryland, to Vandalia, Illinois, over which thousands and thousands of emigrants were pouring towards the western country. Beyond the Mississippi only one route is shown heading west from Independence, Missouri, and the areas west of that town are occupied by such people as the Kickapoos, Shawnees, Cherokees, and Choctaws. The gradually spreading U.S. fort system is represented by such establishments as Fort Towson, Fort Gibson, and Fort Leavenworth. As is often a curiosity on these maps, knowledge of areas in the South seems to be either lagging or incorrect. In North Carolina, Kinston is misspelled Kingston, Pamlico Sound is misspelled Pamtico Sound, and in Tennessee, Greeneville is misspelled Greenville. In Illinois, the ill-fated Mormon settlement of Nauvoo is shown; it would be abandoned early the next year after the Mormons left to head west. The map extends only to west of Nacogdoches in Texas, and shows the eastern portion of Indian Territory. After the discovery of gold in California, this map was quickly revised so that its insets were pertinent to those travelling to the Gold Fields. ($600-1,200)

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

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