“The best answer was to get out a better map. They did so.

Ransom and Doolittle have achieved here what they had not before, a Nevada map of importance”—Wheat

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356. [MAP]. RANSOM, Leander & A[lonzo] James Doolittle (cartographers & surveyors); Warren Holt (publisher); Louis Nagel (lithographer). New Map of the State of California and Nevada Territory Exhibiting the Rivers, Lakes, Bays and Islands, with the Principal Towns, Roads, Railroads and Transit Routes to the Silver Mining Districts of Nevada Territory. Also Meridian, Standard, Range and Township Lines as established; to which is added the County Boundaries and United States Land Districts, Carefully compiled from United States and other Reliable Surveys by Leander Ransom, and A.J. Doolittle, 1863 Published by W. Holt, 305 Montgomy. St San Francisco (Note: The title appears to begin with the letter “A” but the letter is poorly printed);[above border at lower left] Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1863 [altered by ink manuscript correction to 1865, or possibly 1869]by[“by” is an ink manuscript insertion] Louis Nagel in the Clerk’s office of the District Court of the Northern District of the State of California; [above lower border at center] Lith. by L. Nagel, 529 Clay St.; [key at left, locating railroads proposed and built, symbols for ranches, hills, valleys, etc.] Explanation...; [below key] Table of Distances; [locations of six Land Offices: Humboldt, Marysville, San Francisco, Stockton, Visalia, and Los Angeles] United States Land Districts; [lower right, outside border] Arizona Ter. San Francisco, 1863 [The map was printed in 1863, but the copyright notice between scale and border has been altered by hand to 1865, or possibly 1869]. Lithograph map on banknote paper showing California, Nevada Territory (with parts of Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Arizona. Utah, and Colorado), original full color with bright rose around California boundary, piano key border; border to border: 66 x 54.6 cm; overall sheet size: 68.5 x 57 cm; folded into original pocket covers, original red diced cloth (15.6 x 10.8 cm), lettered in gilt on upper cover: W. Holt’s New Map of California and Nevada 1863; 4 pp. of text (Table of Distances to various mines). Professionally conserved with some folds and one short tear repaired (very minor losses), otherwise the map is very fine with vivid original coloring.  Front pocket cover abraded and lightly stained, front  endpaper lightly foxed, neatly rehinged. Overall a superb copy, with contemporary goldenrod label of bookseller George H. Bell, 611 Montgomery, San Francisco.

     This map rapidly went through several editions from 1862 to 1863, reflecting the exponential growth, development, and high interest in minerals in the California-Nevada region in the 1860s. Battles with Native Americans are indicated, marking the progress of Anglo settlement and conquest in the region. Each edition documents the area’s rapid expansion, and each is in itself valuable for the time period it shows. The life of the map extended to as late as 1881, but the stone on which this map was printed was in use only in 1862 and 1863. The present map is apparently the immediate precursor of Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 1071; Vol. V, Part 1, illustrated opposite p. 76; pp. 76-77 (discussion): “Ransom and Doolittle have achieved here what they had not before, a Nevada map of importance. It was the only published map of general character to take account of the rise of Austin [Nevada] in the year of its founding, for which it would be sufficiently notable. De Groot’s manuscript ‘Map of Reese River Mining Region,’ previously described [Wheat 1067], deals with that particular area on a larger scale, but each map supplements the other in some degree; they make a solid pair to delight Nevada positions.” Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 320 (lists an indeterminate 1863 edition).

     The map first came out in 1862 (copyright 1861). Wheat 1046 & Vol. V, Part 2, p. 53: “Notably rare... This map mothered a small cartographic family which will require considerable attention among the maps of 1863.... In its cartographic parts, Ransom’s [1862] map is not particularly outstanding, though competent.” The 1862 map is copyrighted and lithographed by Louis Nagel.

     Next in the sequence is a version published in 1863, which was in the Streeter Sale 2880: “This is a first rate map of California as it was in 1863 and is especially good for the mining districts in Nevada and southern California”; lower left quadrant illustrated on p. 2012: “Conscientiously scaled, with great detail.” Wheat 1070 (Vol. V, Part 2, p. 75). In this version the copyright is held by Holt, but the lithography was done by Nagel. Wheat: “We must now turn back to two familiar names, Leander Ransom and his publisher Warren Holt. With a collaborator, A.J. Doolittle, Ransom got out a new edition of his ‘New Map of the State of California...,’ again published by Holt at San Francisco, under date of 1863. Although the title is differently arranged, and a small ‘Table of Distances’ has been added in the Pacific Ocean area, basically this map is a reissue of Ransom’s earlier map, as evidenced by its continued showing of the Utah-Nevada boundary line at the 116th meridian, and by the legend, ‘New Mexico; (rather than Arizona), below the 37th parallel. Yet changes have been made. The ‘Reese River Dist.’ and Simpson Park Dist. have appeared immediately east of Reese River, with Jacobsville nearby. An ‘American District’ has been added to the mining districts clustering around the Humboldt Mountains, with a Croesus Ledge, Salt Mines, and an undefined Cinabar Dist. a little farther east. Among changes to be noted in California, Buena Vista County has vanished, southeast of Tulare Lake. Farther south, a Turnpike Road, which in the 1862 issue was shown to cross the unnamed Soda Lake to the California boundary, is carried on to the Colorado District, where El Dorado Canon and a Colorado Mill now appear. Few of these changes are momentous, though all are interesting.”

     Our map follows later in 1863. In the present issue, Nagel both copyrighted and lithographed the map. The title has been changed by making “A” the first word, although in the present example the letter is smudged and poorly printed. According to Wheat, Holt rushed a revision into print because of A.L. Reed’s plagiarism (pp. 75-76): “If Ransom and Doolittle saw Reed’s plagiarism, they must have appreciated that the best answer was to get out a better map. They did so, again published by Holt. The title became ‘A New Map of the State of California and Nevada Territory....Carefully compiled from United States and other reliable Surveys by Leander Ransom and A.J. Doolittle, 1863’.... In fact, Ransom and Doolittle have achieved here what they had not before, a Nevada map of importance.”

     Wheat makes the following points about the map he discusses (1071), all of which comport with the present copy:

The map must have been issued comparatively early in the year, since there are showings of Washington Ter. (not on the previous maps) and New Mexico rather than of Idaho and Arizona. Yet there are impressive additions in Nevada, suggesting a later time in 1863 for the construction of this map. The Utah boundary, as an overdue correction, has been moved east to the 115th meridian. More to the point, there has been an immense elaboration of detail in central Nevada. The Reese River Dist. sports such towns as California and Clifton, as well as Jacobsville, with new districts like Smokey Valley and Big Canyon to the south, and Mt. Hope to the north. The Reese River has been extended considerably to the north (ending in a “Sink,” as on De Groot’s Reese River map). Much detail is provided along the course of the “Overland Stage Road,” thirteen different stations being named east of Austin, for example, with the intervening distances shown. To the northwest, toward the end of the Humboldt, other new mining districts appear, as well as the projected Humboldt Canal, “63 Miles Long 600 Cubic Inches Water.” New trails spruce up the northwest corner of Nevada, the “Proposed Route from Carson City to Salmon River Mines 550 ms,” and “Roops Trail” heading north from the Black Rock Area. (Indeed, Roop County has replaced Lake County, a change decreed by the Nevada legislature on December 5, 1862this was one change William H. Knight failed to make on the Bancroft map.) Just north of the Nevada line in Oregon is “Region of Petrified Trees.” In more southern parts, various mountain ranges are drawn in, including “Toyabo Mts.”; and around the head of the Amargosa River runs an unexplained easterly trail terminating at an also unexplained “East Camp” with white space on all sides. It was the only published map of general character to take account of the rise of Austin in the year of its founding, for which it would be sufficiently notable. De Groot’s manuscript “Map of Reese River Mining Region,” previously described, deals with that particular area on a larger scale, but each map supplements the other in some degree; they make a solid pair to delight Nevada positions.

Rumsey (4393) apparently holds yet another variant of Wheat 1071, with no “A” in the title, with Nagel’s name on the map, but with several erasures in Nevada, including the “Agusta District.”

     The last use of the stone appears to be 1863, which is Wheat 1071. In that edition, the copyright was held by Holt, and Nagel’s name has disappeared as lithographer. Otherwise, Wheat’s 1071 agrees with the present copy. However, the cartographic sequence continues to as late as 1881 with the map being produced on larger and larger scale on new stones by Holt’s firm. Furthermore, as the altered copyright date on the present copy implies, it, too, had a longer life beyond 1863.

     Leander Ransom (1800-1874) was born in Connecticut, educated in New York State, went West to Ohio in 1825 (where he was involved in public works), and to California in 1851, with Samuel D. King, the U.S. Surveyor General for California. Ransom conducted the first Public Land Survey in California as Deputy Surveyor from July 1851 to September 1851. The Mount Diablo Principal Meridian and Base Line extending from the Mount Diablo Initial Point, established on July 17, 1851 by Ransom, controls Public Land Surveys within two-thirds of California and all of Nevada. In August of 1852, King ordered Ransom to examine the southern California region of San Bernardino Mountain to see if it would be feasible to establish an initial point on its summit, and Ransom reported to King that it would be possible. In September of 1852, King issued instructions to establish the San Bernardino Initial Point. Ransom served as Chief Clerk of the California Surveyor General’s Office in San Francisco from 1851 to the 1860s. He was a Charter Member of California Academy of Sciences, and held the office of President for eleven years.
     Alonzo Janes Doolittle was in California as early as 1850-1855. The Bancroft library has a small collection of photos, artifacts, and papers relating to Doolittle and his family. Among the images is a quarter plate daguerreotype of Doolittle in miner’s clothing: “Miner’s shirt, plaid trousers, and broad-brimmed hat. His arm rests on a plinth that holds two ‘gold pokes’; two small bags, with gold nuggets displayed. The breast pocket of his work shirt appears to contain maps or account books, and he wears a two-piece round belt buckle common among California gold miners.” Doolittle’s gold-headed cane is inscribed: “A.J. Doolittle, Nevada City, Cal. 1854, Pure Cal[ifornia gold] From Doolittle’s Diggings, Sou[th] Yuba Riv[er].” Doolittle remained active in mapmaking until ca. 1869 or 1870, and his subsequent maps included Official Township Map of Humboldt County (1865) and Township and County Map of the Central Part of California, exhibiting the U.S. Land Surveys...Carefully compiled from U.S. Surveys and Personal Observation, Drawn and Published by A.J. Doolittle (1868).

     Lithographer Louis Nagel, born in Germany in 1817, worked in New York 1844-1856 and San Francisco 1857-1873. His mass of fine work encompassed small and large pieces: advertising, letter sheets, broadsides, portraits, ships and the sea, landscapes, military scenes, city views (including Gifford’s incredible, large-format 1862 view of San Francisco), and maps. See Peters, California on Stone and America on Stone; also, Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940.

     Warren Holt (fl. 1862-1881) was a map seller and publisher in San Francisco, and acted as an agent for J.H. Colton in California. Holt’s name is associated with high-quality commercial maps of California and the region, which he revised and kept current through a period of rapid development and expansion, as new towns developed, additional mines were discovered, roads and trails were blazed, public improvements occurred, and—most of all—new land surveys were conducted. Holt worked with other cartographers, including Charles D. Gibbes, Julius H. Von Schmidt, and Henry De Groot. See Wheat 1046, 1069, 1070, 1071, 1139, 1202 & 1240. The culmination of the present map was Holt’s imposing 1869 version of California and Nevada (Wheat 1202), published on the large scale the Army used (twelve miles to the inch) and with incredibly detailed updates (especially in southeastern Nevada) and documenting the coming of the railroad. As late as 1881, Holt’s oversize map of California and Nevada was still being updated and published; see large advertisement on p. xviii in Leonidas De Cenci Hamilton’s Border States of Mexico (San Francisco, 1881). See Ristow, American Maps & Mapmakers, p. 461.

     This is one of early printed maps to show Death Valley (first appeared on Farley’s 1861 map).


Auction 23 Abstracts

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