“An Early Map with a Late Date”

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254. [MAP]. CASE, TIFFANY & COMPANY. Map of the United States [below title, oval portrait of George Washington with eagle and wreath] Washington [below portrait] Hartd. Published by Case Tiffany & Company 1853 [architectural illustration at center] Capitol at Washington [key with symbols for towns, missionary stations, forts, canals, mines, roads, etc.]. Explanation. Hartford: Case, Tiffany, 1853. Lithograph map on banknote paper with original full color, showing the United States (including the Great Lakes and part of Canada, Mexico, Central America, and Cuba); neat line to neat line: 60 x 61.5 cm; overall sheet size: 65.6 x 64.5 cm. Creased where originally folded, small loss at one fold, otherwise fine and fresh.

     Apparently a detailed sequence of this chameleonic map has not yet been done. OCLC locates editions for 1851 and 1853. According to Rumsey (3930), the present map is a reworking of Case-Tiffany’s ca. 1850 map of the same title, considerably altered here (Texas downsized from the Emory conformation, western territories and California more clearly shown, etc). For the ca. 1850 version, see Rumsey (3930) and Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West (III, p. 148 & #664). Wheat calls the Case-Tiffany ca. 1850 map “clear and definite in the West” and comments that it “is a strange mixture of up-to-date information, and much that goes back for years.” Our map is cited by Rumsey (4404), who notes that “no changes are noted from the 1852 issue by [Horace] Wentworth.” Rumsey is referring to Wheat’s entry #768 (III, p. 156), a map based on the Case-Tiffany map and states: “Greatly outdated in the West, having color and the name for Utah Territory and New Mexico Territory, but precious little else that would show the slightest desire to keep up with change. Oregon is of the Lewis and Clark period. East of the Rockies the Stinking Water River is the ‘Sinking water.’ California is elemental. This is an early map with a late date.”

     Wheat decries the slap-dash nature of so many of the commercial maps of the Gold Rush era, and the Case-Tiffany firm had a propensity for creative geography. That said, if one is interested in creative geography or cartographic curiosities, this map might be of interest. In the present map, Texas is shown with a malformed, drooping Big Bend, an anorexic Rio Grande Valley, a fat, leaning Panhandle, and the former New Mexico territory greatly downsized.


Auction 23 Abstracts

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