Never Judge a Map by Its Title

The Rare Pocket Map Issue

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335. [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 on bank note paper (showing the Transmississippi West, 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 dark green roan, original black leather label on upper cover lettered in gilt: Mexico, original tan pastedowns. Superb copy. 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. Atlas map issue: Day, Maps of Texas, p. 43. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, p. 311. Rumsey 537.037.Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region #27. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #519 & pp. 34-35:

Coming to the commercial mapmakers, the outstanding man of 1846, insofar as the West was concerned, was clearly the prolific Philadelphian, S. Augustus Mitchell... The esteem in which his maps were held is shown evidenced by a receipt in the Emory Papers in the Coe Collection—that his map was one of the only three that Lieutenant Emory thought it worthwhile to carry along on leaving Washington in June, 1846, for service with the Army of the West. (The others were Gregg’s and Abert’s.) The first of Mitchell’s maps of 1846 is entitled “Oregon and California,” published in his School and Family Geography. The second, which like the first showed the influence of Frémont, was “Mexico and Guatemala,” which includes Upper or New California, New Mexico, and Texas (Wheat 27). The third map [was] “A New Map of Texas, Oregon and California.”

     The present map is much more than the title Mexico & Guatemala would imply. The map is dominated by the Transmississippi West and Mexico; Guatemala is relegated to an inset. The map was published just at the time when a large portion of what is shown on the map would be transferred from Mexico to the U.S. As Wheat (#519) 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. Texas is shown as an independent entity with its western border at the Rio Grande rather than the Nueces, and its Panhandle thrusts somewhat ambiguously all the way into northern Mexico as far as Taos, or possibly beyond Pike’s Peak. Truly, geography was in flux in that pivotal year. The map was published in Mitchell’s New Universal Atlas, the copyright to which he acquired from H.S. Tanner in 1846; the number “36” occurs on both the present pocket map and the atlas version. According to Phillips (Atlases 6101), the Mitchell’s atlas was a reissue of Tanner’s New Universal Atlas. In Mitchell’s 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. This map would be the seed for Mitchell’s New Map of Texas, Oregon and California and his series of Mexican-American War maps (1846-1848) that kept growing ever longer as the war progressed (see 321 & 322 herein).


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

Auction 23 Abstracts

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