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October 26, 2007

Very Rare, Early Map of the Capture of Mexico City
From the Press of the Dean of Mexican Lithographers

138. [MAP]. UNITED STATES. ARMY. CORPS OF TOPOGRAPHICAL ENGINEERS. HARDCASTLE, [Edmund La Fayette], [George Brinton] McClellan, & [William] Turnbull. Battles of Mexico. Survey of the Line of Operations of the U.S. Army, under command of Major General Winfield Scott. On the 8th. 12th. & 13th. Septr. 1847 Made under the Direction of Major W. Turnbull Topl. Engineers by Captain McClellan & Lieut. Hardcastle, Topol. Engineers Drawn by Capt. McClellan. Wm. Turnbull Major Topo. Engrs. [lithograph signature]; [center below lower neat line] Lit. de [Hipólito] Salazar; [inset map at lower left, untitled map of Molina del Rey battlefield, neat line to neat line: 14 x 23.3 cm, with key titled] Worth’s Command on 8th Sept; [text with statistics at top] Killed, Wounded & Missing 13th.... Sept. 13th. 1847... [upper right, untitled key to main map]. [Mexico City, 1847]. Lithograph map on thick paper (mounted on linen in 1929). Neat line to neat line: 51.3 x 65.5 cm. Several short marginal tears consolidated by backing (no losses), scattered very minor browning, tiny piece wanting from lower left margin, left margin slightly darkened, inset moderately stained at top, overall very good, with contemporary ink signature of W. Wilkin at upper right. Wilkin, a private in the Second Pennsylvania Volunteers, was wounded in the Battle of Cerro Gordo on April 18. Light pencil at upper left reading: “Mounted 1929.” Never folded, not issued with a book.

            First edition. This large-scale separately issued map is not listed in Garrett & Goodwin, The Mexican-American War, or other Mexican-American War bibliographies. Not in Phillips or standard cartographical sources. This is probably the earliest printed cartographic depiction of the battle for Mexico City, printed on the press of Hipólito Salazar, whose skills and press had in all likelihood been “co-opted” by the U.S. Army. According to Lota M. Spell, an entire company of the Pennsylvania Second Volunteers was composed of printers (p. 27), and Sandweiss, et al. remark that by November 19, 1847, the Second Pennsylvania Volunteers were part of the occupying force in Mexico City, where they remained until late May, 1848 (“The Anglo-Saxon Press in Mexico, 1846-1848” in The American Historical Review, Vol. 38, No. 1, October, 1932, p. 27; Sandweiss et al., Eyewitness to War, p. 351). Thus, there appears to have been ample U.S. printing talent on the scene, even if Salazar had been reluctant to cooperate. Spell further notes, “With the withdrawal of United States troops from Mexican territory, the presses which had been employed in the publication of the various papers in English were returned to their owners” (p. 30). This map is far rarer than later iterations showing the same battles that flooded U.S. publications after the war ended. We found no institutional holdings of this map, although we have seen one copy in a private collection.

            This large-scale map shows the battlefield from just north of the lava field to Mexico City itself. To the west, Casa Mata is the last feature on the map, but the inset shows that battlefield in far more detail. The casualty figures match those shown on the 1848 Battles of Mexico (see next entry). The map shows Mexican defensive positions and U.S. positions and notes routes of attack for Quitman and Worth. Also shown are the positions of Mexican and U.S. artillery and the critical Garita de Belén. For all practical purposes, after the battles depicted here, the war with Mexico was over.

            Hipólito Salazar (1820?-1887?) is considered the dean of Mexican lithography. Setting up his own shop in 1840, he thereafter issued many of the most important lithographic works in the country. See also Mathes, Mexico on Stone, pp. 19-23, 56. For more on the topographical engineers involved with this map, see next entry. ($1,500-3,000)

Sold. Hammer: $1,500.00; Price Realized: $1,762.50

Auction 21 Abstracts

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