King Cotton Goes Global in the Gilded Age

Rare Lithograph Map of the 1884-1885 Cotton Centennial Expo in New Orleans Printed on Cotton

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341. [MAP]. NEW ORLEANS INDUSTRIAL AND COTTON CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION. HANSELL, F[rederick] F. (publisher). Exposition Map of the City of New Orleans Published by F.F. Hansell Law Bookseller and Dealer in Stationery School Books and Notions. 30 Camp St. New Orleans. Near City Hotel. Copyright Applied For. Plan of New Orleans with 8 views of Exposition architecture, plus publisher Hansell’s building, clockwise from upper left: [1] Perspective View of the Buildings and Grounds from the North East [large bird’s-eye view of the exhibition grounds]; [2] United States and State Exhibits 885 x 565 Feet; [3] The Main Building---1378 x 905 Feet; [4] Horticultural Hall, 600 x 184 Feet; [5] Art Gallery---300 x 100 Feet; [6] Factories and Mills 350 x 120 Feet; [7] Mexican Headquarters; [8] Mexican Exhibit; [9] F.F. Hansell Law Bookseller... [publisher’s impressive multi-story building]. New Orleans: F.F. Hansell, n.d. [1884-1885, when the publisher was at this address]. Lithograph street map printed on cotton, showing New Orleans between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River (including soundings and tiny illustrations of steamships), rail and ferry routes, canals, and levees indicated; neat line to neat line: 63.5 x 67.5 cm; overall sheet size: 70 x 73 cm. Creased where formerly folded, edges very lightly frayed, a few areas with minor light stains (mostly not affecting image). Older pencil notation at top right blank margin dating incorrectly: “1885-6.” Overall fine for this exceedingly rare piece, highly unusual for being appropriately printed on cotton.

     First edition, undesignated variation. OCLC records no copies of this map but notes two copies of a reduced facsimile printed in 1976. Not listed on OCLC are the copies owned by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Mississippi Department of Archives and History (“printed on cotton cloth in deference to the Cotton Exposition”). We find no sales records of our map. There are at least two other versions of this map with basic similarities but variations of individual elements, particularly the vignettes (see our Auction 20, Lot 130). Rumsey (5324) lists a title published by Southern Lithographic Company, with 13 vignettes, and other variations. OCLC lists many digital copies of the Rumsey map, but sorting out the genuine copies from Rumsey’s digital image, we find approximately 22 locations, and the Rumsey map shows up in the market on a regular basis. OCLC lists at least one copy of a similar version of the Rumsey map, but with publisher J.C. Hammett (California State Library). A few copies do not list a publisher at all. Some versions of the map can be found laid in Will H. Coleman’s 1885 Historical Sketch Book and Guide to New Orleans (see Harvard holdings). Guides to the exhibition usually included some of the vignettes from the various versions of the map.

     The International Centennial was held to publicize the cotton industry and commemorate the centennial of the first shipment of cotton (six bags or about a bale) from the United States (Charleston, South Carolina) to a foreign port (England). It was also the centennial of New Orleans. The main building must have been magical with its 5,000 electrical lights and enclosing 33 acres (the largest roofed structure constructed up to that time). The Mexican exhibit—the largest of the foreign exhibits—was particularly lavish and highly popular. The Mexican Exhibit Hall with its exotic octagonal building is among the vignettes shown on the map. On Mexican participation in this exhibit, see our Auction 21, Lot 262, which features a double elephant folio broadside printed in black and red, urging Mexicans to support the country’s investment in this fair. The Mexican Pavilion cost $200,000 to build and was a classic example of Porfiriate progressivism. U.S. enthusiasm was no less pronounced with Congress granting $1,000,000 to the fair, which covered about 200 acres in what is now Audubon Park. Among the exhibitors was the state of Texas, her first participation in any world exhibit. Included in the U.S. exhibits were “Colored People” and Indians, right next to the still disenfranchised “Women’s Work,” the latter commandeered by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe.

     Despite magnanimous infusions of enthusiasm and cash, the fair was a failure, and Major Edward A. Burke, director general of the exposition, absconded abroad with a large amount of money. Subsequently the majority of the many imaginative structures were publicly auctioned off, most going only for their worth in scrap. For more on the Exposition, see John Kendall, “The World’s Cotton Centennial Exposition,” Chapter 29 in The History of New Orleans, published by the Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago & New York, 1922, 2 vols. Kendall concluded: “An article in the Picayune, which chronicled the closing scenes of the exposition, served as its epitaph of the enterprise, pointing out with melancholy eloquence that the collapse of the American [Exhibit] signed the death warrant of any other such enterprise thereafter forever in New Orleans. Yet the exposition was a failure only in the financial sense. It worked an immense educational benefit to the South, and its value in building up New Orleans can never be estimated in mere totals of dollars and cents.”

     Publisher Frederick F. Hansell was born in New Orleans on January 29, 1859. He followed his father into the publishing business. In 1877, at age eighteen, he opened his own publishing and printing establishment occupying a part of the building at 30 Camp Street in New Orleans under the name F.F. Hansell. His firm was very successful and in 1885 his brother Morris E. Hansell joined him in the enterprise. They then purchased the whole building at 28 & 30 Camp Street and renamed the firm to F.F. Hansell & Brother, with address of 28-30 Camp Street. The firm quickly outgrew even those larger quarters and in June 1889 moved to a new address at 94 & 96 Canal Street. By 1900 F.F. Hansell & Brother moved again—to a palatial five-story building at 714-716 Canal Street, which was described in the February 20, 1902, issue of the Journal of Education (Vol. LV, No. 8, p. 126) as “one of the largest and handsomest buildings in New Orleans,” and the company as “the largest school book house of the South.” Among Hansell’s publications was Lafcadio Hearn’s imperishable classic La Cuisine Creole: a Collection of Culinary Recipes from Leading Chefs and Noted Creole Housewives, who Have Made New Orleans Famous for its Cuisine (New Orleans, 1885). See: The Publisher’s Weekly: The American Book Trade Journal, Vol. XXXV, No. 905, p. 739, New York, New York, June 1, 1889. Also, Carl Nicolaus Caspar, Caspar’s Directory of the American Book, News and Stationery Trade, p. 241, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1889.

This map of New Orleans was published by F.F. Hansell to coincide with the Exposition in that city. The Exposition opened on December 16, 1884, and closed in May 1885. Although the map is undated it shows the name of the publisher to be F.F. Hansell at 30 Camp Street rather than F.F. Hansell & Brother at 28-30 Camp Street. Therefore, this suggests a publication date of circa late 1884, before the firm changed name. A late 1884 publication date would also be more likely because in December 1884, F.F. Hansell published a color lithograph view of the Exposition (38 x 32.5 cm on cardboard: Southeastern Louisiana University, Cotton Centennial Exposition, Photo Collection, No. 13—Exposition Scrap-Book).


Sold. Hammer: $2,000.00; Price Realized: $2,450.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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