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American Atlases
Page 2

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The Universal Atlas

Henry Schenck Tanner's American Atlas of 1823 is a monument in the early history of American cartography. Its format, size, and detail made it probably the first American-made atlas to equal the work of the best European firms. The atlas was well received and helped to establish Tanner in his subsequent position as the leading American cartographic publisher of the day. It also inspired Tanner to produce an atlas of a more manageable size, his Universal Atlas of 1836. The atlas contained excellent maps of the entire world and of each individual state, with all details clearly presented and up-to-date. Though smaller, this atlas had a profound impact on American map and atlas making for much of the rest of the century. The atlas was reissued by Tanner several times until 1842, after which the rights were purchased by Carey & Hart. They issued editions in 1843 and 1844, along with one sometime in 1845 without a change of date on the title page.

The following year, the rights to this atlas were purchased by S. Augustus Mitchell, who published the atlas in regularly updated versions to 1849. These atlases did not, however, include engravings, but rather lithographs transferred fom the engravings by F. Bourquin, who was working for Philadlephia lithographer P.S. Duval. In 1846, Mitchell issued two versions of the lithographed atlas, one of which was labeled on the cover as "Tanner's Universal Atlas" and the other "Mitchell's Universal Atlas." These two atlases are virtually identical. In the first, "Tanner" issue, the map titles usually state they are by "H.S. Tanner." The copyright imprints are the same as the earlier maps, viz. they mostly name either H.S. Tanner or Carey & Hart, and give the dates of the original engraved maps. It appears that Mitchell, when he got the rights to the atlas, put out the atlas as quickly as possible without any changes, then started going through and making the changes to differentiate his edition. In the second "Mitchell" issue, the copyright imprints have been changed to H.N. Burroughs and the maps have an 1845 or 1846 date. Also Tanner's name was removed from under the titles, which now reads, "Published by S. Augustus Mitchell." Geographically and otherwise, the two versions issued in 1846 are identical.


John Hayward. Gazetteer of the United States of America . . .. Hartford: Case, Tiffany, & Co, 1853. Small quarto. Frontispiece, 861 pp. Lacks map of U.S. Full leather binding with gold stamped labels on spine. Rehinged. Internally excellent. Marbled page ends. Denver.

The subtitle explains that the book gives "a concise general view of the United States, and particular descriptions of the several states, territories, counties, districts, cities, towns, villages, their mountain valleys, islands, capes, bays, harbors, lakes, rivers, canals, railroads, &c.; with the governments and literary and other public institutions of the country; also, its mineral springs, waterfalls, caves, beaches, and other fashionable resorts; to which are added valuable statistical tables . . ." A compendium of information about the United States at the time of the California gold rush and leading up to the Civil War. $120

Thomas Baldwin and J. Thomas. A New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States; Giving a Full and Comprehensive Review of hte Present Condition, Industry, and Resources of the American Confederacy . . .. Octavo. (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1854). Map frontispiece, 1,364 pp. plus publisher's list of books in print on front and end flyleafs and back paste down. Bound in full original leather. Marbled page ends. Excellent. Denver.

A large gazetteer with the following map:

Wellington Williams. "A New Map of the United States upon which are delineated its vast works of internal communications, Routes across the Continent &c. Showing Also Canada and the Island Of Cuba." Copyrighted in 1851. Printed in 1854. Second state. 25 1/4 x 29 3/4. Lithograph. Original outline hand color.

A more expansive description of the map is available upon request. Book and map together. $1,350

Colton part 1SpacerColton part 2
George W. Colton. Colton's Atlas Of The World, Illustrating Physical And Political Geography. New York: J.H. Colton & Co., 1855-56. 2 folio volumes. Original half leather binding with elaborate, gold-stamped boards. Wear at edges and some cracking on spine and hinges. Volume I tight, but first five maps of Volume II coming loose. With engraved and text title pages. Complete: Vol. I with 58 lithographed maps and Vol. II with 45 lithographed maps. Original hand color. Interior of Volume I with typical smudging/stains and short tears in margins from handling, but overall very good condition. Interior of Volume II very good. Phillips: 6116; Rumsey: 4179.

While American map publishing was centered in Philadelphia through the first half of the nineteenth century, around mid-century there was a shift to New York City. One of the main factors was the Colton firm, founded by Joseph Hutchins Colton in the 1830s. The Colton family, which included J.H's two sons, George W. and Charles B., began publishing atlases in 1855 with the first volume of the Atlas of the World, Volume 2 being issued the following year. There were only two editions of this atlas, which was replaced by the smaller, single volume General Atlas in 1857. The maps in this atlas are typical of the fine work done by Colton, with clear detail, bright color, and decorative borders. The atlases were regularly updated and, facilitated by the size of this two volume set, comprehensive in its depiction of the world in 1855-56. The Coltons issued their atlases during a period of great development in the American west, and each edition had updated and new maps of the states and territories there. This is a fine example of the first Colton atlas. $4,500
[ Click here for images: Nebraska and Kansas | Texas | Ireland ]

G[eorge]. Woolworth Colton. Colton's Illustrated Cabinet Atlas and Descriptive Geography. Text by Richard Swainson Fisher. New York: J.H. Colton, 1862. Folio. Half title, frontispiece, title page, [5]-400 [pages interspersed with 53 colored lithographed maps], 1 page of advertisements. Ref.: Phillips, Atlases, 4341, calls for 52 maps, otherwise the same collation for an 1859 edition. See also Rumsey, 1690, and Baskes, also 1859 printings. Full leather boards with gold stamping on front and blind stamped back, and new leather spine with gold stamped title.

Here is a beautiful and unusual atlas that must have been intended for an elegant but scholarly owner. The lithographed maps are decorated with a delicate floral border that is lighter than what is usually found on atlas maps of the period. Colton's maps usually had a strapwork border. Hundreds of wood engraved illustrations and maps show the reader pictures and city plans of locations throughout the world and with emphasis on the United States. Two to six such illustrations are devoted to each state. Depictions of a number of observatories around the world are included. No reference is made anywhere to the current Civil War in America. The lithographed maps are copyrighted in 1860; back of title page is copyrighted 1858. $2,200

Atlas To Accompany Chambers's Encyclopædia. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1869. Quarto. Cloth binding with wear at corners. Loose and with some torn cloth at hinges. 40 maps. Some maps with minor stains and browning. Overall, good condition. Phillips: 4351a.

A Philadelphia edition of the atlas issued to accompany the encyclopedia issued by the Edinburgh firm of W. & R. Chambers. The atlas includes historical and modern maps of the continents and major countries. This edition includes a map of the western U.S. and one of the eastern U.S. The maps show clear detail, with color used to distinguish political boundaries. $175
[ Click here for images: World Map, South America Map ]

Frederick W. Beers, George P. Sanford & others. Atlas of Bennington Co. Vermont. New York: Beers, Ellis & Soule, 1869. 30 folio pages. Clean and complete but disbound, so easily handled with the maps opening flat easily. The plan of the town of Bennington (map 23-24) is splitting at the centerfold. The spine is split with original publisher’s gold stamped cloth. Phillips-LeGear, Atlases in the Library of Congress, 2595.

A fascinating geographical depiction of a Vermont county published soon after the Civil War. $450

S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr. Mitchell's New General Atlas, containing Maps of the Various Countries of the World, Plans of Cities, Etc. Philadelphia: Bradley, Garretson & Co., 1877. Folio. 66 single and double page maps. All maps lithographed with hand color and decorative borders. Maps are clean and very good except California separated at fold and top right corner of following three maps with crease in margin. Original buckram covers with combination of gold tooling and blind stamping. Spine and corners somewhat worn. Overall, very nice example of this atlas.

In 1831, Samuel Augustus Mitchell issued an updated version of A. Finley's American Atlas and began his career issuing atlases and separately issued maps. This firm, which passed on to his son, S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr., in 1860, became one of the most important American cartographic publishing firms, producing some of the most important separate maps and atlases of the nineteenth century. In 1860, Mitchell produced the first edition of New General Atlas, which replaced his father's New Universal Atlas. The New General Atlas was regularly issued in updated versions until 1893. This is a fine example of one of the later editions of this classic American atlas. Mitchell continued to be credited with the maps, but by this date Bradley, Garretson & Co. was the new publisher. The maps are typical of the excellent maps for which Mitchell is noted. They have the familiar fine detail and hand coloring, and the attractive decorative border for which Mitchell's maps are known. The western plains states are presented in an interesting and detailed map, and the map of Alaska shows this territory just a decade after it was purchased from Russia. The atlas contains many maps, both single and double page, of major American cities and also maps of other parts of the world outside of North America. $1,800

G[riffith] M[organ] Hopkins. Atlas of Philadelphia and environs: from official records, private plans, and actual surveys based upon plans deposited in the Department of Surveys surveyed & published under the direction of G.M. Hopkins, C.E., 320 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 1877. F. Bourquin Steam Lithographic Press, 31 South 6th Street, Philadelphia. Folio. Worn boards and spine; front hinge broken. Interior clean and complete (pp. 1-25, 28, 33-87; 50 colored maps). Includes historical sketch of Montgomery County. Moak, Atlases of Pennsylvania: 407.

Areas covered in this atlas:

Rand, McNally & Co. New Handy Atlas of the United States of America and Dominion and Canada. Chicago: Continental Publishing Co., 1884. Cloth. Octavo. Gold stamped title on cover is bright. Front cover is stained and minor warping. 128pp.

An early Rand, McNally & Co. atlas. As described in the title: "Containing New Colored Maps of Each State and Territory in the United States, with Special Maps of Provinces in the Dominion, together with full descriptive matter, Relative to the Topography, Climate, History, Population by Sex, Race and Color Etc., Etc.. Graphically illustrated by colored diagrams." Rand, McNally & Co. used cerography to make their maps (cf. Morse atlas above). $350

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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated March 28, 2014