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Antique Maps of Iowa

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Prior to the arrival of Europeans, many Indian tribes inhabited what was to become the state of Iowa, including the Iowa, Sauk, Mesquakie, Sioux, Potawatomi, Otoe and Missouri. The first Europeans to arrive were the explorers Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette, who passed through in 1673. The region was part of French Louisiana and was purchased by the United States with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The first official non-Indian settlement began in 1833 with the Black Hawk Purchase of a band of land along the Mississippi River north from Missouri. Settlers moved into the region, expanding westward from the river, for though the conditions were hard, the soil was found to be excellent for farming. In 1838 Iowa became a territory with Burlington as its capital. This was moved to Iowa City in 1841 and five years later Iowa was admitted as the 29th state. In 1857 the capital moved for the final time, to Des Moines. The population of the state continued to grow, especially after the Civil War, when it almost doubled in the decade between 1860 to 1870.


"A New Map of The State of Iowa." Philadelphia: Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1853. 13 x 16. Lithographic transfer from engraved plate. Full original color. Very good condition.

A map of Iowa in the Tanner/Mitchell series, this one by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. This map depicts Iowa at a more developed stage. Development is shown as more extensive and the entire state is now broken into counties, with no Indian lands being left at all. The Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. maps were particularly strong in their depiction of the roads and railroads and this map is no exception, providing a very detailed image of Iowa still in its first decade as a state. $250



"Iowa." New York: J.H. Colton & Co., 1855. 12 3/4 x 15 3/4. Lithograph. Full original hand-coloring. Very good condition.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the center of map publishing in America moved from Philadelphia to New York. The J.H. Colton publishing firm played a large role in this shift. This map of Iowa, with its fine detail, is a strong example of their successful work. The map presents the counties in contrasting pastel shades, and includes depictions of towns, rivers, marshes, and some topography. Of particular interest are the indications of the burgeoning transportation network in the state, with roads and railroads clearly shown, especially in the eastern part of the state and along the southern tier of the state, connecting De Moines with Omaha City and Elkhorn City in Nebraska. An attractive map as well as a worthwhile historical document. $150



"A New Map of the State of Iowa." Philadelphia: Charles Desilver, 1856. 13 x 16. Lithograph. Original hand color. Very good condition. With decorative border.

Charles Desilver, one of the many publishers working in Philadelphia during the mid-nineteenth century, issued an atlas of maps based on the famous Tanner-Mitchell-Cowperthwait series. Desilver used much the same information as originally drawn in the 1840s, but updated the maps with new counties, roads, towns, and especially the transportation network of canals, roads and railroads, always the focus of the maps from this series. This map is typical of the rather unusual and scarce Desilver atlas. The growth of roads and railroads across the state is impressive and indicative of the huge growth in the region during the middle part of the century. An attractive and fascinating Iowa document. $150



"County Map of the States of Iowa and Missouri." Philadelphia: S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr., 1861. 14 x 11 1/2. Lithograph. Original hand color. Very good condition.

S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr. took over his father's map publishing business in Philadelphia and continued to issue fine atlases in the early part of the nineteenth century. This map focuses on Iowa with its southern neighbor, in contrast to the competing map above. The scale is slightly smaller and Mitchell does not have quite as much topographical detail, so that the roads and railroads show up a bit more prominently. A nice decorative and historically interesting map. $85



"Johnson's Iowa and Nebraska." New York: Johnson & Ward, 1864. 17 x 22 3/4. Lithograph. Original hand color. Short repaired tear into bottom. Otherwise, very good condition.

A detailed early map of Iowa and Nebraska at an important time in the development of both. Nebraska, which did not become a state for another five years, had lost the top two thirds of its original territory (that part became the Dakota Territory) in 1861. Most of the western emigration at the time was passing further to the south, but there was some development along the Missouri River between Iowa and Nebraska, and along the Platte River. Iowa is shown well settled here, but Nebraska has development only to the east of the 98th meridian, with the entire western part of the territory not even shown on this map. An indication is made of a proposed route for the Pacific Railroad, running through Nebraska. A detailed and interesting picture of this region just at the end of the Civil War. $165



A.J. Johnson. "Johnson's Iowa and Nebraska." New York: Johnson & Ward, 1870. 17 x 22 3/4. Lithograph. Original hand color. Separations along center fold at edges. Otherwise, very good condition.

Though the copyright date is still listed as 1864, this map clearly shows greater settlement and westward movement than the edition published in that year. By 1870, settlement had extended west along the Missouri border to towns like Council Bluffs and Omaha. In the northwestern counties, around Iowa's lake region, are still sparsely populated. $150



"Asher & Adams' Iowa." Washington: Asher & Adams, 1874. 15 3/4 x 22 1/2. Lithograph. Original hand color. Some chipping and tears in margins. Otherwise, very good condition.

The maps by Asher & Adams are more unusual than the bigger Philadelphia and New York publishers, but they have very good detail, attractively presented. This map is typical of the firm's output and it has particularly good information of the surrounding sections of the neighboring states. $120



"County & Township Map of the States of Iowa and Missouri." Philadelphia: S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr., 1874. 21 1/2 x 14 1/2. Lithograph. Original hand color. Very good condition.

A larger version of the Mitchell map of these two states. By the 1870s, these states had grown tremendously in terms of population and internal development and this map well represents that growth. The larger scale allows for more detail of rivers, towns, roads, and railroads. $120



"Map of Des Moines"A.T. Andreas' Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa, Chicago: Andreas Atlas Co. 1875. Lithographs. 16 x 13 1/2. Original color. Good condition. Denver.

As the population, transportation network, and industries of Iowa developed in the second half of the nineteenth century, there was a great need for better maps of the various counties. This was satisfied by this fine atlas of the state issued just before the Centennial. Each county is shown with its major topographical and social features, with maps of the major cities as well. $70
MoreGo to page with other county and city maps of Iowa


Frank A. Gray. "Gray's New Map of Iowa." Philadelphia: O.W. Gray & Son, 1876. 11 3/4 x 16. Lithograph. Original hand color. Very good condition.

A slightly later and slightly smaller map of Iowa by itself from the Gray firm of Philadelphia. $125



"Iowa." Edinburgh: J. Bartholomew, 1884. 11 x 16. Lithograph with printed color. Very good condition.

An unusual British state map. Good detail and up-to-date. $50



Arbuckle Iowa
"Iowa." New York: Arbuckle Bros. Coffee Company, 1889. Ca. 3 x 5. Chromolithograph by Donaldson Brothers. Very good condition.

From a delightful series of maps issued by the Arbuckle Bros. Coffee Company. This firm was founded by John and Charles Arbuckle of Pittsburgh, PA. They developed a machine to weigh, fill, seal and label coffee in paper packages, which allowed them to become the largest importer and seller of coffee in the world. Their most famous promotional program involved the issuing of several series of small, colorful trading cards, one of which was included in every package of Arbuckle's Coffee. These series included cards with sports, food, historic scenes, and--one of the most popular--maps. The latter cards included not only a map, but also small illustrations "which portrays the peculiarities of the industry, scenery, etc." of the region depicted. These cards are a delight, containing informative maps as well as wonderful scenes of the area mapped. $60



"Council Bluffs." Ca. 1900. 12 1/2 x 10 1/4. Chromolithograph. Very good condition. $45



"Iowa." Chicago: Geographical Publishing Co., 1921. 14 3/4 x 21. Chromolithograph. Very good condition.

An early twentieth century map that has its own decorative appeal. $45




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