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

2010/11 Winter Catalogue > 20. LARGE MAP of WISCONSIN


Silas Chapman. “Chapman’s Sectional Map of Wisconsin with the Most Recent Surveys” (Milwaukee: Dyer & Pasmore, 1857). Lithographed pocket map with bright, original, full hand color. 34 1/2 x 32" at decorative border. Sheet: 35 1/2 x 33." Accompanied by 12mo brown cloth booklet with gilt titling and embossed decorative borders. Front pastedown is the original paper label advertising Chapman’s maps for sale. Very minor age toning at a few fold lines; a few very minor marginal fold separations and a few very minor losses, with the whole professionally stabilized. Overall excellent.

Price: SOLD.

This large and beautifully hand-colored map is an important document in the early statehood of Wisconsin. Chapman included a wealth of information, effectively detailing the progress of development in the state at the time, as well as the limits of completed surveys. Towns and settlements are concentrated in the southern part of the state, where the mapping of river systems is highly detailed and the divisions of townships (many of which are named) and sections are complete. Settlements along the Mississippi at this time are scattered, nevertheless adjacent river systems are detailed and township divisions are present. To the northeast, huge proto-counties remain unnamed without township indications, and the mapping of river systems remains incomplete. Railroads and projected railroads are indicated, with only the Milwaukee to Prairie du Chien line completed. Reservations are marked for the Chippewa, Menomonee, and the Oneida. The locations of many native burial mounds are also shown.

The government of Wisconsin had undertaken two large-scale surveys, both in 1853 and 1855, paving the way for settlement of the state. Many factors contributed to rapid population growth in Wisconsin in the 1850s. In the mid-nineteenth century, the state’s economic interests were shifting from fur trading to agriculture and railroad commerce. The Emigrant’s Handbook and Guide to Wisconsin, published in 1851, was one of many guides designed to encourage settlement of the state by Europeans. In addition, articles appeared in the eastern press promoting industries for lead and iron, which had been mined here since the 1830s. Wisconsin was on the move, and Chapman’s map captures this significant moment in the state’s history.

Silas Chapman (1813-1899) specialized in creating maps of the Midwest from the 1850s to the1870s, concurrent with a career in educational administration. The main market for his pocket maps would have been developers and settlers looking for opportunities to relocate west. The firm of Dyer & Pasmore was the successor to Chapman’s business, and they apparently retained him as their supervisor of production. An advertisement on the front pastedown notes that “S. Chapman is engaged in revising and correcting our Publications, and all letters of information, additions or corrections, should be addressed to him.” A polymath of sorts, Chapman was born in Massachusetts in 1813 and moved to Milwaukee in 1842 where he opened a private school for boys. He was co-editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Herald before embarking on a publishing business that included book selling, stationary, and bookbinding. He is best known as a publisher of county, city, railroad, and geological maps. His most notable publication is Chapman’s Handbook of Wisconsin of 1855.

This rare and wonderful map of early Wisconsin is a superb addition to any collection of nineteenth-century American cartography.

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