2010/11 Winter Catalogue, William R. Talbot Fine Art, Antique Maps & Prints Home

2010/11 Winter Catalogue > 13. COLTON’s POCKET MAP of KANSAS


George Woolworth and Charles B. Colton. “Colton’s Kansas” (New York: G.W. & C. B. Colton Company, 1886). Lithographed pocket map with bright original full hand color. 16 1/4 x 24" at decorative strap work border, with full margins. Sheet: 18 x 26." Includes red embossed cloth cover with gilt titling: “Compliments of Aug. T. Post. Banker / 25 Nassau St. New York. Colton’s Map of Kansas,” 5 3/4 x 3 3/4." Cover has light wear and some fading on spine; previous owner’s label inside front cover. Map issued folding. Pristine condition with very minimal age toning.

Price: SOLD.

The highly successful Colton Company advertised pocket maps “in great variety, embracing . . . special maps, large and small, of all the States and Territories separately.” One of the company’s specialties was railroad maps, an item that appealed to speculators headed west. It is not surprising that the banker Augustus T. Post chose a Colton series of pocket maps to promote his firm, as Post was a dealer in investment securities who liked western town and county bonds as well as railroad stocks. The present map of Kansas distributed by Augustus Post to his clientele includes rivers, towns, township grids, and railroads with mileage markers. All extraneous points that might interest the general tourist are absent from this map.

Colton, Kansas Cover

Colton’s Kansas illustrates a poignant moment in the development of the state as it moved toward the twentieth century. Towns and a well developed railroad network remain concentrated to the east, while brightly colored counties also emphasize the concentration of development in the eastern part of the state, with large proto-counties dominating the less developed western part of the state. Nevertheless, by this time the way was well prepared for western expansion with the completion of township surveys throughout the state and the presence of two major railroads—the Union Pacific and the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe lines.

The Colton Company was one of the most important commercial map firms in the United States during the nineteenth century. Joseph Hutchins Colton founded the company around 1831, and while not a trained geographer or cartographer, he was a genius in the business of commercial publishing. His sons, George Woolworth and Charles B., became part of the business and assumed its direction around 1865. Colton’s Atlas of the World was the first publication to bear George’s name and he henceforth served as the firm’s principal map compiler, cartographer and engraver. In producing the atlas, the Coltons discovered a publishing advantage by transferring steel-plate engravings to lithographic stones or zinc plates, thereby ensuring larger runs and the best quality for their publications. The present map reveals the culminating expertise of the Colton Company—a fine example of the mapmakers art and an excellent document of the progress of development in nineteenth-century Kansas.

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