John Melish. "United States of America. Compiled from the latest & best Authorities by John Melish." From C.V. Lavoisne's A Complete Genealogical, Historical, Chronological, and Geographical Atlas. Philadelphia: Mathew Carey & Son, 1820. 17 x 21. Engraving by Benjamin Tanner. Original hand coloring. Narrow bottom margin, as issued. Very good condition.
This map by Melish depicts the United States from the Atlantic seaboard to the Rockies. The southwestern border of Michigan's upper peninsula is shown extending down to the Illinois border, and present-day Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota are designated as the last of the old North West Territory. The newest state, Missouri, is shown broken off from the original Louisiana Territory, and the remainder of that territory is shown as made up of the Missouri Territory and the Arkansas Territory. Information on the Missouri River and Columbia River systems is much more copious than that found for the southwest because of the detailed maps from Lewis and Clark's expedition ten years earlier which Melish made use of. The map was engraved by Benjamin Tanner, one of the first American map engravers. Tanner began his career in New York City, but later moved to Philadelphia where he did much work for Melish. M. Carey & Son, the publisher of this map, was a short lived version of the firm founded by Mathew Carey in the eighteenth century, which dominated American cartographic publishing prior to the advent of John Melish. Carey was the primary shaper of the early American cartographic scene, creating the network of engravers, sellers, cartographers, and colorist that made Philadelphia the leading American city for this industry. In 1817, Mathew Carey made his son, Henry Isaac, a junior partner, and this version of the firm lasted until 1822, at which time Mathew retired. This edition of the Melish map, issued by M. Carey & Son in Lavoisne's atlas, is scarce and most desirable. $1,500
John Melish. "United States of America." From Carey & Lea's A Complete Historical, Chronological, and Geographical American Atlas. Philadelphia: H.C. Carey & I. Lea, 1822. 17 x 21. Engraving by Benjamin Tanner. Full, original hand coloring. Some trimming to right margin and chipping in top right corner; expertly conserved and filled. Otherwise, very good condition.
In 1822, Henry Charles Carey and Isaac Lea published their A Complete Historical, Chronological, and Geographical American Atlas. This volume was based on Emmanuel Las Cases' Atlas Historique of 1803, with updated maps and text modified by Carey, a political economist. He considered himself an American foil to John Stuart Mill and the London economists who were proclaimers of "the gloomy science" influenced by Ricardo and Malthus. Instead of preaching overpopulation and degeneration of the human species, Carey illustrated the nations of the western hemisphere through maps that showed an expanding region with ample promise of developing into lands of great new opportunity and growth. The sheets from this atlas, which cover North America, Central America, South America and the West Indies, are comprised of an engraved map surrounded by text documenting the history, climate, population and so forth of the area depicted. The atlas is particularly known for its excellent early maps of the states and territories of the United States. This map of the United States and its territories as a whole served as the initial and index map, depicting the nation extending from the Atlantic seaboard to the Rocky Mountains. It is a later edition of the map issued in the Lavoisne atlas of 1821 (cf. above). $1,400
John Melish. "Map of the National Road between Cumberland and Wheeling." From A Geographical Description of the United States. Philadelphia: Melish, 1822. Engraving. 5 3/4 x 10 3/4. On thin tissue paper, with folds as issued. Very good condition.
An early printed American road map, showing the "national road" running from Cumberland, Maryland, on the Potomac River, to Wheeling, on the Ohio River, crossing mostly through the southern part of Pennsylvania. John Melish was the first American publisher to issue exclusively cartographic and geographic items. Born in Scotland, Melish visited the U. S. several times beginning in 1806, finally settling there in 1811. Making many notes on his travels about the country, in 1812 he published Travels in the United States of America, which included his first maps. He came to dominate the industry in this country and had a huge impact on all subsequent American mapping. Beginning in 1816, Melish issued his Geographical Description, which contained extensive information about the entire United States and surrounding regions. In 1822, Melish issued an expanded edition, which included 12 engraved regional maps of considerable note. The earliest traces of the National Road were recorded in 1754-55 when Braddock's expedition used this route to approach Fort Duquesne. The road was authorized and financed by the U.S. Congress in 1806 and completed to Wheeling, Virginia, now West Virginia, in 1818. Wheeling was then the major jumping off place for the many immigrants to the burgeoning mid-western part of the country, opened up after the War of 1812. Though the road passed over several steep ridges (nicely shown with hatchuring), and through extensive forests, a number of settlements and towns such as Washington and Union developed along its length. $325
William E. Morris after John Melish. "Map of Pennsylvania, Constructed from the County Surveys authorized by the State; and other original Documents. Revised And Improved Under the supervision of Wm. E. Morris, Civil Engineer." Philadelphia: R.L. Barnes, -1849. Copyright, R.L. Barnes 1848. 50 x 74. Engraving by Edward Yeager. Original hand color. Conserved and mounted on new linen backing. Very good condition.
In 1816, the Pennsylvania State legislature passed a law to produce an official state map, and this project was given to the supervision of Philadelphia mapmaker John Melish. Melish called for each county to produce a standardized map, which he would then use to compile a full state map. He worked for six years on this map, which was finally produced in 1822, with revised editions issued in 1824, 1826, and 1832. As each of these maps was produced, one could see the internal growth and development of the state, with new roads and canals, settlements and other features making their appearance with each new issue. By the 1830s, however, it became clear that the tremendous growth of the state demanded an updated and revised version of this official state map. Civil Engineer William E. Morris was authorized to gather updated information from each county, and he proceeded to 'revise and improve' Melish's map, with the new engravings done by Philadelphia craftsman Edward Yeager. The map was copyrighted and first issued in 1848 and this example was issued a year later with some updating. The size of this map and its myriad public uses determined that the map would be issued in the format of a wall map. Its sheets were joined, mounted on canvas, and varnished so that it could be hung in public plates throughout the state. Added along the bottom of the map are several tables of information. These include: "Anthracite Coal Trade of Pennsylvania," "Public Works of Pennsylvania," "Approximate Estimate of Bituminous Coal Mined in 1847," and "Statistical Table Shewing The Prominent Features of each County." It map is a superb picture of Pennsylvania at mid-century and it is the last of the great engraved maps of the state. $6,500
From Travels Through The United States of America, in the years 1806 & 1807, and 1809, 1810, & 1811. Philadelphia: J. Melish, 1812. Engravings. Ca. 6 1/2 x 4 /18. Very good condition.
Melish's first publication. He noted in the preface "as I have always considered books of travels to be very defective when unaccompanied by maps, I have spared no labour, nor expence [sic], to have a good set of maps to illustrate this work." These were Melish's first maps and obviously he was inspired by the process of making them, for this was the beginning of his cartographic career.
Unlike the larger folding maps (cf. above), the smaller maps that appeared in the British edition of Melish's Travels appear to have been re-engraved in London.
The success of his Travels prompted Melish to issue, in 1813, a general map on the "Seat of the War [of 1812]." This map was commercially very successful, so Melish then produced a number of other maps of regions involved in the War, issuing them in a Military and Topographical Atlas. Two years later he issued an updated edition of the Atlas, with the addition of some new maps of new areas of the conflict.
Beginning in 1816, Melish issued his Geographical Description, which contained extensive information about the entire United States and surrounding regions. In 1822, Melish issued a considerably expanded edition, which included 12 of his small, regional maps
A series of regional maps similar to those in A Geographical Description of the United States but slightly smaller. These were likely issued around 1822, perhaps shortly after Melish's death that year.
For more information call, write, fax or e-mail to:
8441 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118 USA
(215) 242-4750 [Phone]
(215) 242-6977 [Fax]
©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated April 11, 2013