Pocket Map of New York State in 1831

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353. [MAP]. PHELPS, Humphrey (publisher) & W[illiam] Hooker (engraver). Map of the State of New York, with the Latest Improvements by H. Phelps. Sold by W. Hooker, J.A. Burtus, G.C. Morgan, E. Bliss & E. White, J.F. Sibell, E. & G.W. Blunt, W.B. Gilley, H.I. Megarey, T.A. Ronalds, R. McDermut, Prior & Dunning, G. & C. Carvill, Mahlon Day, G. Long, J.S. Todder, H. Stevenson, Patten & Ferris, J.H. Wheeler, D. Felt and Wm. Damerum. and S. George, J.B. Jansen, and C. Bartlett, J.M. Campbell, J.C. Totten, J. Montgomery & Son, Joa. Leavitt [below lower border at center (imprint partially trimmed away)] [New-York: Published] By Humphrey Phelps, 1831 [upper right, profile of Champlain Canal] Profile of the Northern Canal. [lower left, profile of Erie Canal] Profile of the Western Canal. [inset tables and text providing information on distances and routes, colleges in the state, population, and newspapers published in state] [compass rose at lower left]. New York, 1831. Copper-engraved map on banknote paper of the state of New York with surrounding portions of Canada, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey, original outline color (counties, Erie Canal route and profile); border to border: 41 x 49.7 cm, folded into publisher’s original pocket covers (12 x 6.9 cm), terracotta boards lettered in gilt on upper cover: New-York. Map: Trimmed close to borders, with loss of part of the imprint below lower border. This seems to be a common occurrence with the various editions of Phelps’ New York state map. Coloring rather amateurish (as is the case with other copies). Pocket covers: Rubbed and worn. Handsomely framed in recent gilt-lined wood frame and under glass. Not examined outside frame.

     Not in Phillips or Rumsey, but Thomson (Check List on American Railroads before 1841 #438) records an 1830 edition by Phelps. This map has a lengthy history of publication before and after this 1831 edition. It appears that Phelps used or copied a plate used by Anthony Finley and subsequently by William Hooker. Finley’s plate for his map of the same name was published in Philadelphia in 1824 (Rumsey 2587). Finley’s map has the profile of the Erie Canal (but not the Champlain Canal), and the statistical table setting forth population, etc. for each county (not yet listing Orleans County), but none of the other tables routes, etc. found on Phelps’ or Hooker’s map. A subsequent incarnation of the map (ca. 1827, according to NYPL, although High Ridge offered one dated 1825) has the maker as William Hooker rather than Phelps or Finley. Hooker’s name appears on Phelps’ map as a source for purchasing the map. Hooker’s version of Finley’s plate changes the name of the Erie Canal to “Western Canal” and includes all the statistical tables and added features found on Phelps’ map. Hooker’s list of sources for purchasing copies of the map varies slightly from that of Phelps. Hooker (well-known for his maps in Mary Austin Holley’s 1833 and 1836 books on Texas) was an accomplished engraver and son-in-law to the Blunt firm noted for its coastal charts and bluebacks. The map lived on when S. Augustus Mitchell obtained Finley’s original plates and published them in pocket map format up to mid-nineteenth century. The earliest imprint noted by OCLC for Phelps is an 1831 map of New York City, with copyright date of 1830.

     A good overview of the matter is presented by David Yehling Allen,“Mapping an Expanding Empire State, 1790-1830,” Chapter 9 in The Mapping of New York State: A Study in the History of Cartography

In the 1820s, maps for the general public started to appear in larger quantities, and in greater variety. They typically show towns and county boundaries, along with roads and canals. The more elaborate were brightly colored, and sometimes included insets showing New York City or other details, such as a profile of the Erie Canal. John Ogden Dey’s highly embellished Map of the Western Part of the State of New York (1825)...exemplifies these trends.... A number of somewhat similar, but less elaborate, maps were published in this decade. Thus, Edmund Blunt’s associate, William Hooker, whose maps of New York City were mentioned above, also published a Map of the State of New York: with the Latest Improvements (probably in 1827).... Very similar maps continued to appear through the following decades. Most of these maps are not especially interesting or innovative, and they often show a monotonous resemblance to each other. They are significant primarily as an indication that a sizable market was developing for inexpensive maps—whose purchasers included students, tourists, and business travelers. And they show that the American map publishing industry was becoming sufficiently robust to meet that demand.


Auction 23 Abstracts

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