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Pocket Map of Central California

By “the greatest map publisher of the Pacific Coast”

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325.     [MAP]. KNIGHT, W[illia]m Henry. Bancroft’s Map of Central California Compiled by Wm. Henry Knight. Published by H.H. Bancroft & Co. 609 Montgomery St. San Francisco 1869. References Finished Railroads Projected Wagon Roads [lower left above neat line] Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1868, by H.H. Bancroft & Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for the District of California [below neat line] The Map of Central California is published in pocket form. Price 50 cents. J. & R. Mc. Clellan N.Y. San Francisco: H.H. Bancroft & Co., 1869. Lithograph map on bank note paper, original full pastel color (counties in yellow, green and pink; bodies of water in blue), neat line to neat line: 29.5 x 24.3 cm; map image and text below: 29.8 x 24.3 cm; overall sheet size: 32.2 x 27 cm, scale 12 miles to an inch, relief shown by hachure and spot heights, features including drainage, completed and projected railroads, mining camps, etc., folded into pocket covers (12 x 7.5 cm), original dark green cloth on heavy card stock, beige printed label (Bancroft’s Map of Central California), inside cover with printed List of Maps Published by H.H. Bancroft & Company, Booksellers and Stationers. 809 Montgomery St., and 607-617 Merchant St., San Francisco. Minor wear to fragile pocket covers, label moderately browned and rubbed (minor loss to border around title). Other than two minute pinholes, the map itself is just about perfect—crisp and clean with excellent color retention. Label bears the contemporary hand ink stamp of C. Black, Bookseller, S. Montgomery St., San Francisco.

     First edition? Rumsey 4106 (not yet described or illustrated). Rumsey (5184) fully describes the subsequent 1871 edition: “The title of the map on the cover calls it ‘revised and enlarged’ which means larger than the 1869 issue of the map that showed the San Francisco Bay area and the country west [i.e., east] to Sacramento, north to southern Lake County and south to Santa Cruz.”

     Although the present map is not within the scope of Wheat, he lists many Bancroft-Knight maps, and briefly mentions the present map and its 1871 revised and enlarged edition (Mapping the Transmississippi West, Vol. V, Part 2, p. 273). In addition to the well-known books that surged from H.H. Bancroft’s extraordinary “history factory” in San Francisco, Bancroft also published maps. Wheat dismisses the firm’s earliest map, which appeared in 1858, but enthuses about the advanced maps it produced once William H. Knight joined the Bancroft team as manager of the publishing department. “‘Bancroft’s Map of the Pacific States,’ compiled by William H. Knight and published by H.H. Bancroft & Co. at San Francisco early in 1863 [sic; cf. Sabin 38131]. Bancroft’s, in scope, was probably the most important map yet produced by a publisher of the Pacific coast. Some extraordinarily fine maps of California had been issued on the Pacific shore during the previous decade, but nothing comparable in geographic reach to the map William H. Knight compiled for H.H. Bancroft…. Knight traveled overland to California in 1859, and next year entered the employ of H.H. Bancroft. By December, 1860…he had begun his labors on both the Hand-Book Almanac for the Pacific States and on ‘a map to accompany the Hand-Book’…. Knight’s map [of the Pacific States] belongs to the supreme category, the cartographical landmarks.” (Wheat, Vol. V, Part 1, pp. 70 et seq). Wheat further comments in the same volume (p. 104): “The great ‘Map of the Pacific States,’ originated in 1863 by William H. Knight, proliferated in 1864 into a whole family of notable maps, automatically establishing the rising H.H. Bancroft house as the greatest map publisher of the Pacific Coast. So large in size are these maps and so overflowing with detail, it is utterly impossible to describe their minutiae. The student must go to the maps themselves—which indeed is a gospel this study of Western cartography has preached from the outset.” For more on Knight, see Wheat (Vol. V, Part I, pp. 18-19) and Cohen, Mapping the West, pp. 180-182.

     Wheat (Vol. V, Part 2, pp. 272-273) discusses the proclivity of the Bancroft publishing house to recycle the 1863 (and subsequent editions) of Bancroft’s Map of the Pacific Coast into smaller regional maps. But the present map of Central California is not a mere repetitive spinoff job hacked from the larger map of the Pacific Coast. Comparing the present map to Rumsey’s 1867 edition of the larger Pacific map, substantial changes can be seen, such as the addition of more towns (e.g., Hayward) and more detailed geographical features. The present map underwent revision and enlargement in its 1871 incarnation, as noted by Rumsey (5154). It is smaller and extends east to Stockton, north to southern Lake County, and south to Santa Cruz. The 1871 version shows a larger extent of territory, east to Virginia City in Nevada and north to Fort Bragg.


Sold. Hammer: $4,000.00; Price Realized: $4,800.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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