Enormous Pedagogical Map for Little Folk

Sing-Along Map

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351. [MAP]. PELTON, C[ale]. [Title within pictorial cartouche showing images of Benjamin Franklin, Washington, a Native American, and Columbus, American symbolism (eagle, shield, Liberty, etc.), three scenes, sawmill or mining scene, Capital Building, and one government structure] Pelton’s Outline Map of the United States, British Provinces, Mexico, Central America and the West India Islands, Constructed and Drawn from the most recent authorities by W. Williams, Philadelphia. Published by Sower & Barnes, Upper 84 Nth. Third St. Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1853 by C. Pelton in the Clerk’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Lith. by Wagner & Mc. Guigan No. 4 Franklin Place, Philadelphia. [inset at upper right] Map of the New-England States on an Enlarged Scale. [inset at lower left] Map of the Lesser Antilles. [inset key showing population size at lower center] Classification of Towns and Cities, [9 ships at sea (clipper ships, paddlewheel ship, and steamboats)]. Philadelphia, 1853. Lithograph wall map within ornate botanical border, showing United States, Mexico, Central America, northern coast of South America, and Caribbean, major populations unnamed but shown by dots corresponding to the key, map divided into 86 numbered grids, original bright color (outline and full), original varnish, original selvedges, on original black wooden rollers; 197 x 212 cm; 77-1/2 x 83-7/8 inches. Minor selvedge separation and minor chipping at top (with slight loss), top edge separating from roller, otherwise in fine condition, varnish uncracked and not darkened. Accompanied by, as issued, a well-used copy of the publisher’s 1851 Key to Pelton’s New and Improved Series of Outline Maps, first published in 1847 and reissued frequently thereafter as late as 1862.

     The map was intended for pedagogical purposes, since it is almost totally devoid of names. The teacher used a pointer asking children to name the symbol and tell where it was located. The text was in verse and meant to be sung. The Western United States is generally still divided into territories except for California. Being post-Civil War, most of the boundaries in the West are set, though the Idaho-Montana border is incorrect and Wyoming has no border with Dakota. But let the author-cartographer speak for himself regarding his methods (from the 1851 Key:

It is now conceded by Educators of the greatest experience, both in this country and Europe that the method of teaching Geography from large and boldly delineated Maps without names, is superior to all others in respect to facility of acquirement—durability of impression—and discipline of mind. The rationale of this method of instruction is teaching by the eye—based on that law of intellect that the objects of sight more readily become the subjects of conception and memory than those of other senses; and the more distinctly they are seen, the more lively is the conception, and the most lasting the impression on the mind [original emphasis].

     An example of teaching to be sung to the tune Auld Lang Syne concerns peninsulas:



Now the peninsulas we sing,
Alaska leads the rhyme;
Then Melville, Nova Scotia, come
All in the northern clime.


In southern regions, Florida,
With Yucatan we meet;
And California follows next,
To make the list complete.

And the children could be carefully taught all manner of things, e.g., regarding Mexico: “The inhabitants consist of whites or creoles of Spanish origin, Indians, mestizoes, mulattoes, and zamboes”; or in the discussion of religions, “Mohammedans believe in Mohammed, an imposter of Arabia, who lived about 600 years after Christ, and pretended to be inspired” and “The Jews are those who believe in the Old Testament, but reject the New, and expect a Saviour yet to come.”

     Yale graduate Cale Pelton (1811-1853) published maps and educational material for schools, specializing in outline maps without textual labels to teach and test young scholars. He also published geography books and teachers’ aids. Pelton was well regarded in his field for the size and beauty of his school wall maps as well as for the effectiveness of his textbooks.


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

Auction 23 Abstracts


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