Dorothy Sloan -- Books


Rare Pocket Map of the Transmississippi West on the Eve of the Mexican-American War

338.     [MAP]. MITCHELL, S[amuel] Augustus. Mexico & Guatemala: Published by S. Augustus Mitchell, N.E. corner of Market & 7th. Streets, Philada. 1846 [lower center above neat line] Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1846 by H.N. Burroughs, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pa. [lower right in blank margin] 36. [inset map and explanation at lower left] Valley of Mexico [inset map with yellow border at upper right] Guatemala. Philadelphia: S. Augustus Mitchell, 1846. Lithographic transfer from engraved plate (showing the Californias, Texas, New Mexico, and areas south to Costa Rica), original full hand coloring of Mexico and insets, ornate pink and green double borders; border to border: 29.9 x 37.7 cm; overall sheet size: 31.3 x 38.8 cm. Folded, as issued, in original pocket covers, 12mo (12.5 x 8.3 cm), original blind-embossed black roan, original black leather label on upper cover lettered in gilt: Mexico, original tan pastedowns. Covers with slight rubbing, inconsequential browning at some folds, and a few tiny pinholes, overall very fine with superb color retention. A better example would be difficult to find. Exceedingly rare in pocket map format.

     Early issue (without the battle flags), unrecorded pocket map format. A subsequent issue appeared in a Mitchell atlas (see Item 339 herein). Atlas map issue: Day, Maps of Texas, p. 43. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, p. 311. Rumsey 537. Wheat, Gold Region #27; Mapping the Transmississippi West #519: “Largely based on 1845 Frémont” & pp. 34-35: “The outstanding man of 1846, insofar as the West was concerned, was clearly the prolific Philadelphian, S. Augustus Mitchell.”

     The present map is much more than the title of Mexico & Guatemala would imply. The map is dominated by the Transmississippi West and Mexico; Guatemala is relegated to an inset. As Wheat notes, it is based on Frémont’s important 1845 map. The map retains the older place names in Texas, such as Austin’s Colony, while adding new towns and the Mexican-American War battles fought on Texas soil. The map was published in Mitchell’s New Universal Atlas, the copyright to which he acquired from H.S. Tanner in 1846, and the number 36 occurs on both the present pocket map and the atlas version. According to Phillips (Atlases 6101), the atlas is a reissue of Tanner’s New Universal Atlas. See Item 337 preceding herein for a discussion of two issues of Mitchell’s atlas that came out in 1846 and the transition from engraving to lithography.

     In atlas form, the map locates the early battles of the Mexican-American War from Palo Alto to Buena Vista. However, the present pocket map shows none of those battles, thus indicating its preliminary nature as a map issued before the conflict truly heated up. Texas is shown as an independent entity with its western border at the Rio Grande reaching all the way into northern Mexico as far as Taos.