The Scientific Approach to Mapping San Francisco

Rare Mixed Media Map

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343. [MAP]. NEWBERY, F[rederick] T[homas]. New and Improved Street Map of the City of San Francisco. 1877 Drawn, Compiled & Published. By F.T. Newbery, C.E. [below lower border at left] Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1877, by F.T. Newbery, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. N.p., 1877. Mixed media (map proper chromolithograph; ornate border, cartouche, and title steel engraved); coloring in green, yellow, pink, green, and blue; red lines indicating transportation routes; relief shown by colored contour lines; 13 concentric circles radiating from the center of downtown at Lotta’s Fountain; landmarks identified; border to border: 52.5 x 64.4 cm. Professionally stabilized and backed (consolidating splits at some folds; a few minor losses); upper left corner missing (affecting only the border); mild toning and a few light brown spots (mostly confined to left and right margins). Overall a very good copy of a rare map, with a few pencil notations. Under glass and in a gilt frame (not examined outside frame).

     First edition. The map appeared the same year in larger format, with a longer title, the cartographer’s name spelled out rather than “F.T.” etc. For the large-format version, see Phillips, America, p. 777, and the 1884 Catalogue of the California State Library. The present map accompanied Roman’s Tourist and Business Directory of San Francisco... (San Francisco, 1878). We locate no auction records of either the map or the guide book. OCLC lists just one record for the guide book, the Wright Howes copy in the Graff Collection at the Newberry Library. The directory is not in Quebedeaux.

     This map is distinctively different from other nineteenth-century maps of San Francisco preceding and following it. The large-format version of the map had a longer title, which gives insight into the detailed scientific approach civil engineer-surveyor-cartographer Frederick Thomas Newbery took in creating yet another map of San Francisco. The extended title of the large format version was: New and Improved Street Map of the City of San Francisco, constructed on an entirely new principle, showing: 1. The streets, avenues, courts, lanes...their names, official grades, extent graded, house numbers, fire alarm numbers, position of U. S. mail and Wells, Fargo & Co.’s letter boxes, etc. 2. The public squares, parks, cemeteries, military reservations, fortifications. 3. Railroad depots, railroads, street car lines, distances in operation, ferry connections. 4. Ferry landings, names of wharves, etc. 5. Political wards. 6. Distances of all parts of the city from Lotta’s fountain. 7. General directory to the churches, halls, public schools, banks, hotels, theaters, libraries...municipal offices, etc. What makes the present map different is not merely its extreme detail, but also features such as the delineation of grades and contour using chromolithography.

     Frederick Thomas Newbery (1840-after 1916) was born in New South Wales to British parents. He married in 1863 and emigrated to San Francisco in 1869. He is listed as a licensed surveyor in Report of the Surveyor-General of the State of California...1880-1881 (Sacramento, 1882, pp. 17, 97, and 151). His name can be found in many other California government publications of the period. In an 1886 work entitled A List of Government and Railroad Lands in California, Open to Preemption or Homestead or to Purchase. Southern Pacific Company, New Orleans to San Francisco Via the Sunset Route, Newbery is listed as cartographer of the map in that work (see Rumsey 6918). Another map by Newbery is his 1877 map published at Omaha, Map of the Southern Pacific Rail Road and Connections. Newbery prepared other railroad maps as well. Berton’s Un Voyage sur le Colorado (1878), includes a map by Newbery (Plan of Loop Tehachapi Pass On the Line of Southern Pacific R.R.). Newbery was active in surveying, land speculation, mining, and railroad ventures. He also invented a method of electric bonding of rail lines.


Auction 23 Abstracts

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