Roessler’s Small-Format Map of Texas

“Roessler’s maps are the only printed maps that preserve the results of the Shumard survey, the state’s first geological and agricultural survey”—Taliaferro

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360. [MAP]. ROESSLER, A[nton] R. New Map of the State of Texas Prepared and Published for Albert Hanford’s Texas State Register for 1876 by A.R. Roessler, Civil and Mining Engineer 52 Beekman St. New York [below neat line lower left] Ed. W. Welcke & Bro. Photo-Lithographers, 176 Williams St. N.Y. [below neat line lower right] Entered According to Act of Congress in the Year 1875 by A.R. Roessler in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington [inset table of stations at lower left] Name of Station... [key at lower left with symbols for various minerals] Explanations... [inset colored map below left] Map of the Vicinity of Galveston City. New York, 1875. Lithograph map on banknote paper, full original color, neat line to neat line: 46.2 x 49.5 cm; overall sheet size 50.3 x 55.1 cm; accompanied by a copy of the book in which it appeared: Albert Hanford’s Texas State Register for 1876, and until July Fourth, The One Hundredth of the Independence of the United States. Galveston: Published by A. Hanford, 1876. [1-2] 3-144. [2] pp., title with engraved illustration (State House, Austin), text illustrations (mostly in ads). 12mo (19.4 x 12 cm), original pictorial wrappers, stitched. Map very fine. Fragile wraps lightly chipped and with marginal foxing, interior very good.

     First edition, first issue of Roessler’s small-format Texas map (Taliaferro 352A); this issue was reworked by Roessler in 1877 for the 1878 Burke’s Texas Almanac (Taliaferro 352B). The present issue is distinguished by the inset map of Galveston, which was replaced with an illustration of the State House in Burke’s Texas Almanac. Roessler’s large-format Texas map came out in 1874 (Taliaferro 349: “Roessler’s maps are the only printed maps that preserve the results of the Shumard survey, the state’s first geological and agricultural survey”). Raines, p. 107. Winkler 3895.

     This guide, which stimulated interest in emigration to Texas, describes the state in glowing terms, but not without an occasional unintentional caveat from Hanford, who in his essay on the “Character of the People of Texas” earnestly refutes as false the contention than Texans are “violent and disorderly” and that “there may be and probably are some disorderly persons in the country, but they are not more numerous than in the Northern States” (small comfort!). The ads include Hanford’s promotional for his own “Hanford’s Celebrated Purified Whiskey,” touted as “the best stimulant known.” Articles include land, laws, stock raising (“Western Texas is the paradise of stock raisers”), cattle drives in 1875 (“large numbers of cattle have been driven from the Mexican frontier to North-western Texas to avoid raiders”), “Sheep Husbandry in Western Texas” (by John James), superiority of Mexican hides, essays on major cities, railroads and transportation, “Some Account of the Mineral Wealth of Texas” (by A. R. Roessler, along with another article by him), etc. Roessler enthuses: “Texas is, or will be, the wealthiest State in the Union, possessing as she does great agricultural capabilities, all the varieties of soils minerals, and useful rocks known to exist in the world.”

     Of special interest is Roessler’s ad (p. 86) for his map establishment located at 52 Beekman Street in New York, specializing in Texas maps “for a very small price.” Those were the days. Apparently the era when Roessler’s Texas maps might be obtained “for a very small price” has terminated.

     Hungarian Anton R. Roessler (1826–1893) was a notable cartographer of Texas, topographer, draftsman, geologist, real estate promoter, self promoter, and “the most thorough and ideal crank of any age” (p. 156, Vasváry Collection Newsletter). His training, said to have been in Vienna, must have been rock solid, because Roessler became one of the best cartographers in Texas. In 1860 Roessler married Octavia Baker, and the couple made their home in Austin. In 1860–1861 Roessler served as draftsman, cartographer, and geologist for the Shumard Survey, the first in-depth geological and agricultural survey of Texas. Regrettably, the Shumard Survey derailed due to the exigencies of politics and the Civil War. Unlike some other members of the survey team, Roessler remained in Texas and served as chief draftsman of the Austin arsenal during the Texas Confederacy. Though later accused of plagiarism (and worse), which Roessler hotly contested, there is no doubt that he was responsible for preserving documentation on the 1858 Shumard Survey, which otherwise would have been lost or destroyed when the geological survey rooms were converted to be a percussion-cap factory. Roessler was accused of stealing the Shumard survey data for private use in his mining and real estate ventures, the Texas Land and Copper Association and the Texas Land and Immigration Company of New York. In the late 1860s, Roessler worked as a geologist for the United States Land Office in Washington, D.C. In the 1870s he created sixteen county maps and at least three maps of Texas that bear his name. See Handbook of Texas Online (Anton R. Roessler) and Keith Young, “The Roessler Maps,” Texas Journal of Science 17 (March 1965).

     Roessler’s incorporation of detailed documentation from the Shumard Survey into his maps make them the most reliable nineteenth-century record of agricultural and mineral wealth of the state during the nineteenth century. Despite the above discussed problems, he is recognized as one of the leading map makers and geological investigators in nineteenth-century Texas. The present map shows counties in color, towns, roads, railroads, military posts, locations of mineral deposits (with illustrated key to types of minerals), physical features, Native American reservations in New Mexico and Indian Territory, etc. The hotly disputed Greer County is shown as part of Texas. ($3,000-6,000)

Sold. Hammer: $3,000.00; Price Realized: $3,675.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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