First edition of “the foundation for the road maps of today”—Schwartz & Ehrenberg

Early American Steel-Engraved Map

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337. [MAP]. MITCHELL, S[amuel] Augustus (publisher), J[ames] H. Young, & D. Haines (engravers). Mitchell’s Travellers Guide through the United States. A Map of the Roads, Distances, Steam Boat & Canal Routes &c. by J.H. Young Philadelphia. Published by S. Augustus Mitchell, 1832. [below border at right] Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1832, by S. Augustus Mitchell, in the Clerks Office of the District Court, of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. [four inset maps at top] [1] Vicinity of Cincinnati. [2] Vicinity of Albany. [3] Vicinity of New Orleans. [4] Vicinity of the Falls of Niagara. [five inset maps at lower right] [1] Vicinity of Boston. [2] Vicinity of New York. [3] Vicinity of Charleston. [4] Vicinity of Baltimore and Washington. [5] Vicinity of Philadelphia. [above insets] Engraved on Steel by J.H. Young & D. Haines. Philadelphia, 1832. Steel-engraved map on banknote paper, showing the United States west to eastern Mexico (i.e. Texas) and Missouri Territory, original bright outline coloring of states, borders of short horizontal parallel lines with original pink and yellow coloring; border to border: 42.2 x 54.7 cm; overall sheet size: 44.5 x 56.1 cm, folded into original 16mo (13.4 x 8.2 cm) straight-grain red sheep pocket covers, decorative gilt stamping and lettering in gilt on upper cover: Mitchell’s Travellers Guide through the United States; accompanied by printed index (folio broadside letterpress chart, same size as map, folded into covers). Map: Fine, excellent color. Pocket covers: Rubbed, otherwise very good. Under glass and in handsome gilt and wood frame. Not examined outside frame. These little pocket road maps are difficult to find in collector’s condition because they were subject to hard use by their purchasers, who carried them on their travels.

     First edition of the foundation map for road maps of the United States, and one of the first American maps to be steel engraved. American Imprints 1832:13796. Buck 284. Clark, Old South (III:74n) lists eight editions of the map with printed guide between 1836 and 1864, noting that he was unable to locate the earlier edition, the first of which was supposed to be dated 1832 (the earlier editions did not have the printed text, but instead had the folio broadside with statistics; according to Ristow, from 1837 onward, the supplementary index was printed in text format rather than on the accompanying sheet). Graff 4790 (listing the 1833 edition). Howes M690 (states that the 1834 edition was the first to include text). Phillips, America, p. 886. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, pp. 303-313. Rumsey 2088. Thomson, Check List of Publications on American Railroads 638. The earliest edition known to Sabin was that of 1836 (49717). Schwartz & Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, p. 255: “Internal improvements coupled with the great Irish and German migrations beginning in 1827 led to the production of traveler’s guides that depicted roads and their distances, steamboat and canal routes, and lengths of principal railroads.... In 1832 Samuel Augustus Mitchell first issued his ‘Traveller’s Guide through the United States’ and complemented it two years later with ‘Tourist Pocket Maps’ of the different states. These early works and their multitudinous progeny over the next fifty years laid the foundation for the road maps of today.”

     The map was published at a time when the Young Republic was on the move, expanding westward, emigrants pouring in from the east, and busily engaged in internal improvements, constructing railroads, turnpikes, and canals. “The National Road” is shown to its terminus at Vandalia, Illinois. Early and proposed railroads are shown by dotted lines, primarily in the northeast (including Pennsylvania, New York, New England, and Ohio). Methods of reproduction were also evolving rapidly. Mitchell notes in the statement above the vignettes on the left: “Engraved on Steel by J.H. Young & D. Haines.”

     Bamber Gascoigne, How to Identify Prints... (Thames & Hudson, 2004, second edition, revised), p. 13a:

In the early years of the nineteenth century there were various experiments in the use of steel as a material for engraved plates, the main intention at the time being to print long runs of bank notes which would remain identical throughout the run and which would be so finely engraved as to make forgery difficult. It was only around 1820 that these same virtues began to be applied...and steel started to oust the traditional copper plate.

     Ristow in American Maps and Mapmakers, (pp. 304-309) comments on the association of S. Augustus Mitchell and James H. Young (next to nothing is known about D. Haines), and discusses the medium of steel engraving:

Mitchell first became associated with J.H. Young when working on the New American Atlas [1831], and their association proved to be a mutually profitable one. The two men collaborated in producing cartographic publications for several decades. Revised and updated maps from the New American Atlas were also published separately on thin bankers paper and folded into pocket-size simulated leather covers. Some of these maps were reduced in size from plates in the atlas.... In 1832 Mitchell introduced his Travellers Guide through the United States [which] was published in a number of editions for two decades....

It is interesting to note that the plate for the Travellers Guide map was done by steel engraving. This was a new technique in cartographic reproduction in the United States at that time. Copper-plate engraving was the principal method for reproducing maps, but only a few thousand impressions could be obtained from the soft copper plates. Lithography had not yet made an impact on map printing and publishing, and so engravers and publishers looked for other, more durable, metals like steel on which to engrave and thus obtain more prints of an engraved image. The Mitchell and Colton companies were the principal utilizers of steel engraving for reproducing maps.

     The border is also noteworthy. Ristow, p. 304:

The most obvious alteration on the Mitchell maps, however, is the addition of a decorative border comprised of short horizontal parallel lines. Such decorative borders, which appear on many maps published after 1830, may have been engraved with a geometrical lathe, which was invented by Asa Spencer around 1820. Intended originally to engrave distinctive designed on bank notes, these engraving machines were also used to design decorative borders for maps.

     The roots of introduction of steel engraving in the United States can be traced to brilliant Yankee inventor Jacob Perkins, who assisted Robert Scot, first engraver for the recently established Federal Bank of the United States (1795). They were tasked with providing secure design for U.S. currency. Perkins’ invention of steel engraving (siderographic technique) greatly advanced banknote printing and took the art and science of engraving to an entirely new level. In 1830 steel engraving began to be used for creating maps.

     The large index sheet includes tables presenting steamboat and canal routes, lengths of principal railroads (finished or in progress), statistical data on the population (total population of 12,852,858, enumerating by “Whites, Free Blacks, Slaves”), length of rivers, heights of the principal mountains, locations of cities and towns (keyed to coordinates on the map), etc.


Sold. Hammer: $1,000.00; Price Realized: $1,225.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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