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Early American Female Map Publisher

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328.     [MAP]. LOW, E[sther] (publisher). [Title in oval at upper right] Georgia from the latest Authorities 1831. J. Scoles sculpsit [below title] Scale of Miles 69½ to a Degree [centered below lower neat line] Engd. for the New Encyclopaedia Published by E. Low N. York. N.p., n.d. [New York, ca. 1831]. Copper-engraved map with original hand coloring of borders between counties and Native American tribes in blue, pink, and yellow, ruled border in yellow. Neat line to neat line: 20.2 x 36.6 cm, folded into contemporary drab blue paper pocket covers (10 x 6.6 cm), printed paper label on upper cover (Georgia). Light staining at center from original pasting into pocket covers, folds and a few creases, minor chipping to spine and head of fragile paper boards, closely trimmed (loss of lower part of imprint below lower margin), otherwise a very good copy. Unusual format for this map, in what appears to be a contemporary home-made pocket format, very modest.

     This map first appeared in John Payne’s A New and Complete System of Universal Geography (New York, printed for and sold by John Low, Bookseller, 1798-1800), in Vol. IV, opposite p. 438 (Evans 34316, Sabin 15284, Wheat & Brun 619). The map subsequently reappeared in New Encyclopaedia (1810) with John Scoles listed as engraver in the oval at top right, along with the date 1810 and E. Low as publisher. In the present map, Scoles’ name has been scrubbed and the year 1810 altered to read 1831, but the name of publisher E. Low below the lower neat line remains. E. Low is Esther Prentiss Low [or Lowe] of New York, who published several maps and reissued the Encyclopedia between 1810 and 1815 while working in New York. Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers, revised edition, Vol. III, p. 160. Low is mentioned by Alice Hudson and Mary Ritzlin in “Women as Mapmakers,” a study of European and American cartographers, who note that “women mapmakers have often been overlooked and their work has been unrecognized…. Even though the number of American women working in the map trade before the twentieth century was small, the works that they produced were of noteworthy quality.”

     The map shows the region from eastern Louisiana and the Mississippi River to the Atlantic seaboard (present-day Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi) as far north as the Tennessee River. Early counties in Georgia are named and their boundaries given. The map emphasizes Native American tribes, locating Country of the Cherokees, Country of the Creek Nation of Indians (“These Parts are little known”), Chickasaws, “Chactaws,” Muskogees,” “Appalachy Country,” Seminoles, etc. Several trading paths to the interior are also shown.

     Esther Prentiss Low’s little map of Georgia, accurate at the time it was first published, was good enough to warrant being recycled. Ironically, the map preserves, many decades later, the origins of the Yazoo Land Frauds, which involved the Indian territories shown here, which Georgia had long ceded to the United States in exchange for its present western border. On the whole, this edition of the map is a total anachronism.


Sold. Hammer: $350.00; Price Realized: $420.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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