“Whitney’s method made possible the later large-scale mapping of the West”—Goetzmann, Exploration and Empire

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301. [MAP]. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF CALIFORNIA. WHITNEY, J[osiah] D[wight] (State Geologist) & C[harles] F. Hoffmann (surveyor). State Geological Survey of California. J.D. Whitney, State Geologist. Map of the Region Adjacent to the Bay of San Francisco. 1873. The Coast, Rancho, Township and Section Lines from Materials Furnished by the U.S. Coast Survey and the U.S. Surveyor General’s Office, the Topography chiefly from Original Surveys by C.F. Hoffman...Julius Bien, Lith. New York, 1873. Lithograph topographical map on two sheets of thin paper [title on south sheet], original outline and color wash, each sheet measures overall: 6l.5 x 91 cm; neat line to neat line if joined: 110.15 x 86.7 cm, with original dark green folder (27 x 19.7 cm), upper cover lettered in gilt (State Geological Survey. Map of the Region Adjacent to the Bay of San Francisco. 1873. Map: Light toning along some fold lines, minor losses at a few fold intersections but reinforced with archival tissue. Covers: Light edgewear and small section at lower left corner discolored from label removal.

     This is the third map of the Bay Area produced by the Whitney Survey, preceded by editions in 1868 and 1870. The map shows the region from just south of Petaluma to the Sacramento area, extending south to Pt. Jarro and the Gilroy area. Gudde, California Place Names, p. 388: “Hoffmann, a native of Frankfurt am Main, Germany was topographer and cartographer of the State Geological (Whitney) Survey throughout its existence (1860-1874). Hoffmann was one of the pioneers of modern topography and is responsible for the adoption of the contour line for the topographical atlas of the United States made by the U.S. Geological Survey.” Hayes, Historic Atlas of California, pp. 128 & 194: “The California legislators who approved the survey thought that they were getting a road map to where the next gold would be found, but the survey was intended to be more comprehensive. Whitney gathered a small group of specialists and produced an ambitious survey with much new information about California. The survey was suspended in 1868 when the California legislators who had approved Whitney became dissatisfied with the scope of the survey. Whitney remained state geologist until 1864, and he even privately funded publication of the final volumes of the survey.” Howell 50:1625A. McNiel, John N. “Historical Maps and Charts” in Scientific Monthly (Vol. 50, No. 5, 1940), p. 447. Norris 2358. Rumsey (5806) incorrectly states: “No mention of the 1873 date in any references.” Vogdes, A Bibliography Relating to the Geology, Palæontology, and Mineral Resources of California, pl. 178 & p. 20. See Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West (Vol. 5, Part 2, pp. 331-332, where the survey is discussed but the present map not entered as a separate number): “For lack of appropriations, the work was intermittent until the discontinuance of the Survey in 1873. The results of the Survey were embodied in a series of reports and maps, never completed.”

     A landmark publication in the mapping of California and western U.S. topography, and one of only a few large format maps issued by the Whitney survey. Finding the mapping techniques of the U.S. Coast Survey, General Land Office, and Topographical Engineers to be unsuitable for purposes of the new California Geological Survey, Whitney turned to an experimental triangulation mapping technique first used during his earlier explorations in the Lake Superior region. Charles Hoffmann, principal topographer for the Whitney Survey, took this idea and made it practical starting a process that revolutionized topographic mapping in the U.S. The first large map produced by the Whitney survey, Hoffmann’s map of the San Francisco Bay region was the most detailed and finest topographic map of the greater Bay area prepared to date, featuring a comprehensive presentation of towns, cities, roads, railroads, etc., as well as meticulously drawn topographic and hydrographic features, all set in attractive outline hand-color. The scarcity of the map may be explained by the acute funding problems experienced by the Whitney survey, which ultimately caused its demise in 1874 short of publishing the bulk of material prepared during its 15 year existence. This map is reproduced in full on p. 364 of Goetzmann’s Exploration and Empire (“Whitney’s method made possible the later large-scale mapping of the West”), and partially on p. 155 of Rabbitt’s Minerals, Lands, and Geology for the Common Defence and General Welfare.

     As usual, Julius Bien, master lithographer and leading publisher of official maps during the latter half of the nineteenth century, excelled in his portrayal of the terrain with hachures and shading, his earliest efforts in this area dating from the Whitney Survey (see California 49 (Map 38). It is safe to say that all the persons involved in the creation of this map were children of Humboldt.


Sold. Hammer: $1,100.00; Price Realized: $1,347.50.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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