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American Atlases

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Finley American Atlas
Anthony Finley. American Atlas. Philadelphia: A. Finley, n.d., but 1827. Pocket issue of Finley's 1826 New American Atlas. Original red binding, 6" x 5" with fifteen maps on fourteen folding sheets, as per index pasted into inside front cover. Table of populations pasted to inside back cover. Maps crisp and bright in excellent condition, except a few stains on Missouri/Arkansas map and a few light stains on map of South America, which also has some creases at folds. 1830 owner's signature on index. Cover with some minor wear, short tear at fold and another at corner of tab; overall, very good and fully original.

A nearly pristine example of the very rare, pocket edition of Anthony Finley's important American Atlas. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, Philadelphia was the leading American cartographic center of North and South America. With its sophisticated scientific community, and the large population of engravers, artists, publishers, and colorists, the vast majority of the best American maps and atlases were issued in the city. In the 1820s, Anthony Finley was one of the dominate Philadelphia cartographic publishers, producing a series of fine atlases that were good examples of the quality that American publishers were then able to obtain.

The atlas contains 13 maps of North America, a map of the West Indies (on the same sheet as Florida), and one of South America. The maps were drawn by D.H. Vance and engraved by J.H. Young and they are printed on thin but strong, banknote paper and folded into this "pocket" edition of an atlas which first appeared in 1826. The map of North America is dated 1827, indicating that it appeared the following year. The regional maps generally show three states each, and the detail contained in the maps is prodigious. Each county is indicated with a contrasting pastel shade, and towns, rivers, lakes, roads, and other topographical features are clearly and precisely depicted. Statistical tables accompany most of the maps. Finley was very concerned to depict as up-to-date information as was possible, and thus his maps present an accurate picture of the world in the early decades of the nineteenth century. $21,000
[ Click here for images: cover; title page; Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama ]

Conrad Malte-Brun A New General Atlas Exhibiting The Five Great Divisions of the globe. [from front label "…according to the Geography of M. Malte Brun."] Philadelphia: John Grigg, 1829. Quarto. Original three-quarters leather, with original paper label. Complete with 40 engraved maps. Full original hand color. Most maps with some slight spotting. Otherwise, crisp and attractive maps. Cf. Phillips: 751, 775; Rumsey: 287.

From 1827 to 1829, Philadelphia publisher Anthony Finley produced an American version of Conrad Malte-Brun's famous Universal Geography. Malte-Brun was a Danish geographer who produced a number of influential works which were copied and printed by numerous publishers in different countries. To illustrate the geography, in 1828 Finley added an atlas of 40 maps based on Malte-Brun, which was then reissued the following year by John Grigg. Many of the non-American maps are based on maps by British cartographer Aaron Arrowsmith, but the American maps are Finley's original work, engraved by J.H. Young. The map of the mid-west, "Western States & Territories," is interesting for its depiction of the Michigan Territory and "North West Territory Attached To Michigan." The map of Mexico is of note for its depiction of "Texas or New Estremaduia," for this map was issued near the beginning of the tensions between Austin's colonists and the Mexican government that would lead to the Texas revolution. $2,500
[ Click here for image; southern states ]

Southern US
Family Cabinet Atlas. Philadelphia: Carey & Lea, 1832. First American edition. 12mo. Rebacked with full leather, using original boards. Complete with 50 engraved maps and charts. With occasional foxing, but generally crisp and clean interior. Phillips: 762; Rumsey: 3770

With the increased output of atlases in Europe in the early nineteenth century, new formats were tried, including smaller atlases intended to be useful and affordable to middle class families. In 1831, Thomas Starling issued his Family Cabinet Atlas in 12mo format, with 50 maps of all parts of the world. In Philadelphia a decade before, Mathew Carey's firm was taken over by Henry Charles Carey, Mathew's son, and Isaac Lea, his son-in-law. The year after Starling's atlas appeared, Carey & Lea issued their own edition of the Family Cabinet Atlas, which was "Revised, Corrected, and Enlarged." The maps were copied from the British atlas, but were re-engraved, and two new maps of the United States were added. There is a single map of the United States and those parts of Mexico presently part of the U.S., and two regional maps. Also included is a map of Mexico including today's Texas and the southwestern part of the U.S. Of further interest in the atlas is the inclusion of a table of place names and locations with each map. $1,000

M. Malte-Brun. A System of Universal Geography or A Description of All The Parts Of the World... With Additions and Corrections by James G. Percival. Boston: Samuel Walker, 1834. Three volumes. Rebound in 1/4 leather. I: xx, 640 pp., 17 plates; II: xx, 680 pp., 28 plates; III: xv, 714 pp., 27 plates. Interior with some slight staining and browning, but overall very good.

A handsome set of Malte-Brun's Universal Geography, issued in Boston in 1834. The erudite text covers all aspects of the entire world and includes numerous tables of various sorts. Equally impressive is the extensive collection of over 70 engraved plates. Among these are maps of countries and continents and views of different parts of the globe, with a selection of 13 engravings of North American scenes. $750

Thomas T. Smiley, A.M., M.D.. Smiley's Atlas for the use of schools and families. A New Atlas, intended to illustrate the Encyclopedia of Geography. Philadelphia: Grigg & Elliot, 1839. Original boards. Quarto. Covers show normal wear. 15 maps on 12 plates. Description on inside page. Staining (including water damage) throughout the atlas. Not in Phillips. $450

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