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The Beginning of the Controversy

“The source for Disturnell’s celebrated Mapa de los Estados Unidos de Méjico


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377.     [MAP: TREATY OF GUADALUPE HIDALGO SEQUENCE]. TANNER, H[enry] S[chenck]. A Map of the United States of Mexico, as Organized and Defined by the Several Acts of the Congress of that Republic, Constructed from a Great Variety of Printed and Manuscript Documents by H.S. Tanner. 1826. [below neat line at left] Published by H.S. Tanner No. 177 Chesnut [sic] St. Philadelphia [below neat line at right] Entered According to Act of Congress, the 10th. day of June, 1825, by H.S. Tanner of the State of Pennsylvania. 1826 [two insets at lower left] [1] Tables of Distances [2] Map of the Roads &c from Vera Cruz & Alvarado to Mexico [12.2 x 32.1 (irregular shape)] [inset at right margin] Statistical Table. Philadelphia. Copper-engraved map on bank note paper, original outline coloring and partial shading (of Mexican states), relief shown by hachure, neat line to neat line plus imprint below: 57.5 x 75.5 cm; overall sheet size: 59.3 x 77.5 cm. Professionally backed with archival paper, minor voids at folds and a few, short marginal tears consolidated (no losses), mild darkening (more noticeable in blank margins), otherwise very good. This edition of Tanner’s map is exceedingly rare. An OCLC search did not locate any copies of the 1826 edition, but LC reports they have a copy of the 1826 edition of the Tanner. Checking other possible candidates, we did not find this map in the online catalogues of the University of California Libraries (MELVYL), Yale, University of Texas (Austin and Arlington), or Newberry. The last copy of this edition sold at auction was Streeter’s copy in 1968, and that copy was resold by our firm in 2003.

     First edition, second issue of Tanner’s map (the first issue of Tanner’s map appeared in 1825; in the 1826 issue Tanner shifted the New Mexico boundary north). Martin, “Disturnell’s Map” in Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America Edited by Hunter Miller, (Tanner) b. Martin & Martin, Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900, #37n. Ristow, A la Carte, pp. 207-208. Rittenhouse, Disturnell’s Treaty Map, pp. 13-14. Rumsey 5176.001 (defective copy). Schwartz & Ehrenberg, pp. 276-277n. Streeter Sale 3824. Wheat, Maps of the Gold Region #33n.

     Martin & Martin, Contours of Discovery, pp. 55-56:

It is…ironic that while Tanner continued to issue updated and improved versions of his own map of the developing Southwest, it was Disturnell’s plagiarism which became the accepted standard and the most widely circulated depiction of the area…. The [Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo] specified that this New Mexican border, which then became the international boundary, was that laid down on the Disturnell map [as copied from Tanner by White, Gallaher and White and then Disturnell]. Because of [Tanner’s] erroneous depiction of the Rio Grande and the resulting distortion of the surrounding topography on the Disturnell map, this clause of the treaty was to result in great difficulty for the official joint boundary commission when it attempted to survey the line on the ground, and it created great controversy in Washington.

Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #364n & Vol. II, pp. 89-90 (commenting on Tanner’s original 1825 map on which the present 1826 version was based): “[Tanner’s 1825 map] was apparently a popular map, for five editions appeared (with no less than ten separate issues) between 1825 and 1847…. In 1826 [present map] Tanner altered [the southern] boundary west of El Paso, bringing it further north. This 1826 issue is the map which became the source for Disturnell’s celebrated ‘Mapa de los estados Unidos de Méjico,’ first published in 1846….”

Ibid #364n & Vol. II, pp. 229-230 (quoting Lawrence Martin’s sequence of editions of Tanner’s map and his commentary):

The 1825 edition of Tanner’s Map of Mexico evidently derived the southern boundary of New Mexico directly from the one on Baron von Humboldt’s map of New Spain published in 1809 [1811]. In the 1826 edition of his map of Mexico, however, Tanner deleted the southern boundary of New Mexico west of the Rio Grande and replaced it with a new boundary which is seen about eight miles farther north in the western part and eighty miles farther north in the eastern part. It is this latter boundary which was reproduced by White, Gallaher & White in 1828 and by Disturnell in 1846 and 1847. All the Tanner maps of Mexico from 1825 to 1847…are chiefly important because they represent the original source of Disturnell’s Map.

     Tanner based the present map on the cartographical work of Alexander von Humboldt [see Item 315 herein], Don Juan Pedro Walker, Zebulon M. Pike, William Darby, Bernardo de Orta, J.F. de Lángara y Huarte [Item 303 herein], and other sources. Tanner’s map was often copied, both in the U.S. and abroad. In the present 1826 issue, Tanner fatefully altered the southern boundary of New Mexico west of the Rio Grande. White, Gallaher & White [see Sloan Auction 18, Lot 55] subsequently reproduced Tanner’s boundary in 1828, Rosa followed suit in 1837 [see Item 378 herein], and Disturnell in 1846 [Item 379 herein] followed Tanner’s 1826 boundary in over twenty variants of his celebrated Treaty Map.

     Tanner’s maps of Mexico were primary sources for cartographic intelligence on Mexico and the emerging western territories of the United States for three decades. For instance, Tanner’s 1834 map was one of the few sources to include Stephen F. Austin’s recent surveys (Tanner also published Austin’s maps). Other mapmakers, such as Rosa, selected Tanner’s map of Mexico, indicating the importance placed on Tanner’s map as the ultimate authority on the region. As Wheat concludes, it was probably issued in great haste to take advantage of the populace’s unending appetite for news of the Mexican-American War. The map’s importance lies in the fact that Tanner revised it and reissued it, and it became one of the series of maps that formed the basis for Disturnell’s blunders, which, combined with Bartlett’s, ultimately left Mexico temporarily in possession of the territory that held the only viable southern route for U.S. transcontinental rail service.


Sold. Hammer: $15,000.00; Price Realized: $18,000.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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