Guide Published by the Great American Entrepreneur of Guide Books

With Two Maps, Including One with an Inset of California

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118. DISTURNELL, J[ohn] (publisher) & J. Calvin Smith (cartographer). Disturnell’s American and European Railway and Steamship Guide, Giving the Arrangements on all the Great Lines of Travel through the United States and Canada, across the Atlantic Ocean, and throughout Central Europe. Also Containing a Brief Description of the Principal Places in England, France, etc. With Maps of the United States and Europe. New York: J. Disturnell, June 1854. [1-5] 6-122, [22, ads] pp., 2 folding maps (see below), text illustrations, tables. 12mo (15 x 9.5 cm), original brown printed wrappers with title: Disturnell’s American and European Railway and Steamship Guide... Published by J. Disturnell, 205 Broadway. For Sale by Booksellers and Periodical Agents in the United States and Canada, June-1854. Wraps lightly stained and chipped, spine missing piece at foot, upper wrapper chipped (slightly touching ornamental borders, wraps professionally repaired with missing portions supplied in sympathetic facsimile, right corner provided), title page gutter margin repaired (no losses), text block edges lightly foxed. First map very fine. Map of North America rejoined at central fold (no losses). Overall a very good copy with wrappers preserved and both maps present. Rare.


[1]  Map of the Railways in Central Europe. Lines Finished...Lines in Construction.... [below neat line] New York-J. Disturnell | Engraved by Charles Copley. N. York. Engraved map on bank note paper, uncolored. Neat line to neat line: 32.6 x 39 cm. Overall sheet size: 37.2 x 43.7 cm.

[2]  Map of North America by J. Calvin Smith [above lower neat line] Published by J. Disturnell. New York, 1852 or 1854(?) (date abraded). [inset map at lower left] Map of the Gold Region, California [table of text at upper right] Overland Routes.... [table of text at lower right] Sea Routes.... Lithograph map, uncolored, like the Library of Congress copy. Overall sheet size: 59 x 56 cm. Inset map of California irregular: height: 26.6 cm; top 8 cm; bottom 17 cm. Phillips Maps of America, p. 606. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 801: “Identical with 1851 Smith save for change of date. The several Smith maps vary in their coloring.” Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region (sequence 123, 124, 171, 172, 173, 207, 232).

     Later edition of a work that seems to have first begun in 1851. OCLC locates editions of 1851, 1853, and 1855, but not the present edition. Goodspeed 551:359 (offering 1854 edition in 1968; no mention of wraps). Robinson Sale 81:259 (offering the 1851 edition in 1959, lacked back wrap). Rumsey 2770 (lists the 1852 edition). Sabin 20136 (lists the 1851 edition and notes “continued”). Not in standard railroad bibliographies.

     The second map (North America) derives from J. Calvin Smith’s maps published 1849, 1850, 1851, and 1852, with slight changes here and there. Regarding the sequence of maps, Wheat (TMW) comments on the 1851 map in the text to Vol. III, p. 152:

In his “Map of North America” (207) published by J. Disturnell...Smith shows...the Oregon Trail through South Pass and down the Snake River to Fort Walla Walla. Branching off from this at South Pass and Fort Hall respectively go two variants of the California Trail which meet at the Humboldt to go down that river and across the Sierra Nevada to New Helvetia. Another road from Independence to San Diego follows the old Santa Fe Trail, with a branch from Van Buren in Arkansas, to Las Vegas, New Mexico. Still a third starts at Austin and San Antonio, Texas, and continues west through El Paso to meet the Santa Fe-San Diego trail. An insert “Map of the Gold Region, California” shows very few towns in the Valley and none in the Gold Region except possibly “Suters,” which is high on the south fork of the American River and is apparently meant for Coloma.

Wheat (TMW 762) in the entry for the 1852 edition of the second map comments in Vol. III, p. 156:

If this catalogue of the maps of 1852 is on the whole depressing, it nevertheless shows the time needed to correct the [cartographical] errors of the past. J. Calvin Smith, for example, coasted along on a plate engraved years before. His insert of the Gold Region shows the California of years back, with very few changes over the years. Smith’s maps were published by Disturnell who thus lent his name to the use of outdated maps.

     A pocket-sized omnibus guide for travellers in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States containing much detailed information on such practical matters as passports, visas, money exchange, lodgings, and transportation. The information given on railroad travel is extremely extensive and detailed. The work is peppered with illustrated ads, many for shipping lines serving the California trade, as well as publisher Disturnell’s own ad. According to a statement herein, Disturnell intended to publish this guide every two months. ($750-1,500)

Sold. Hammer: $750.00; Price Realized: $918.75.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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