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

2010/11 Winter Catalogue > 18. LATE 19th CENTURY MAP of NEW MEXICO


H. R. Page. “Page’s Map of New Mexico, 1887” (Chicago: H. R. Page & Company, 1880 [1887]). Illustrated Historical Atlas of Wisconsin, p. 62–63. Double-page lithograph with full original hand color. 18 5/8 x 15 1/2" at neat line. 26 1/8 x 16 3/8" at decorative border. Sheet: 27 3/4 x 18." Verso: “A Guide to New Mexico,” table with town map coordinates and populations. Light soiling, mostly marginal; two very minor marginal tears, l.l.; 1 1/2" tear at right, mostly marginal with repair. Fine.

Price: SOLD.

After the lapse of more than thirty years, more than 1,000 land claims have been filed with the surveyor general, of which less than half have been reported to Congress . . . [which] has finally acted upon 71. The construction of the railroad through New Mexico and Arizona, and the consequent influx of population in these Territories, render it imperatively necessary that these claims should finally be settled with the least possible delay. —Secretary of the Interior, Report, 1880, as quoted by Ralph Twitchell

Perhaps more than any other span of time in New Mexico’s history, the period from 1878 to 1888 represents the transition from Wild West to civilization as we know it. The decade began with the Lincoln County War, a rivalry between two economic groups that erupted into violence with the killing of John H. Tunstall in 1878 and marked the beginning of the end for Billy the Kid as well as for the territorial governor. The issue of claims to Spanish and Mexican land grants made under the previous governments remained one of the most significant controversies of the territorial period.

In Page’s 1887 map of New Mexico, roughly one half of the territory has been divided into township grids, giving some idea of the progress of the government’s survey at the time. The large, horizontally configured counties of Valencia, Rio Arriba, Bernalillo, Colfax, Mora, and Socorro are in transition from even larger counties that had emerged from old land grant patterns in the 1850s. Eventually, as the New Mexico became more populated and developed, the shape of these counties would continue to change. Page’s map shows many completed railroads, including its sections of the Atlantic-Pacific and Southern Pacific lines, as well as the progress of the incomplete Denver-Rio Grande lines. Other fascinating details include Indian ruins, reservations, and pueblos, as well as towns, roads, railroads, and mountains rendered in a distinctive cloud-like topographical style.

Page’s Map of New Mexico comes, oddly enough, from the Illustrated Historical Atlas of Wisconsin, first published by H. R. Page & Company of Chicago in 1881. Page had acquired the majority of the plates from the Milwaukee company of Snyder & Van Vechten, who published their Historical Atlas of Wisconsin in 1878. For his publication of the Wisconsin atlas, Page added sections of historical text and maps of thirteen states and territories, including this Map of New Mexico. Between 1866 and 1890, the illustrated state atlas flourished as a new branch of commercial cartography in the United States. State atlas publication emerged from the highly successful county atlas business, which in turn had evolved from the county map industry that had been profitable before and after the Civil War. Page’s Map of New Mexico is a large and impressive example of the state and territory map format that held such great appeal in the late nineteenth century.

Refs.: Library of Congress, no. 5079; Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, pp. 427, 434, 443; Tooley’s, p. 373; Ralph Emerson Twitchell, The Leading Facts of New Mexico History, vol. II: chapters 10–12.

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