2007 Catalog, William R. Talbot Fine Art, Antique Maps & Prints Home

2007 Catalog > 53. Colton, Travelers’ Rail Road Map of the United States

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53. G. W. & C. B. Colton. “Travelers’ Rail Road Map of the United States to Accompany ‘Boston to Washington’ Riverside Series Centennial Guides” (New York: G. W. & C. B. Colton & Co., 1876). Published in Boston to Washington: A Complete Pocket Guide to the Great Eastern Cities and the Centennial Exhibition (Cambridge, Massachusetts: H. O. Houghton & Co., 1876). Lithographed folding map with excellent original outline hand color for state boundaries. 28 1/4 x 38" at neat line. Sheet size: 30 x 39 1/4". Three inset maps at right: “The Southern Portion of Texas,” “Plan of the Southern Portion of Florida,” “Western Portion of the United States” (7 x 7 5/8"). Minor toning at old folds; four small rectangular sections of light toning. Excellent condition.

Price: SOLD

The Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, the first official world's fair in the United States, was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Some 10 million visitors attended the exhibition, a number equivalent to about 20 percent of the population of the United States at the time (although many were repeat visitors).

The excitement over the exhibition and its large number of visitors provided a boom for the map and guidebook industry, as publishers rushed to meet the demand for information. The present large and highly detailed map of the eastern United States was an insert from just such a guidebook. Titled Boston to Washington, the guide was part of a centennial series published by the Riverside Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Owned and operated by H. O. Houghton, the press had a reputation for fine design and high-quality printing. George Mifflin became Houghton's partner in 1872 and eight years later the firm adopted the name Houghton, Mifflin and Company, by which it is still known today.

Houghton commissioned the Colton firm, the leading commercial map publisher of the time, to produce this map for the guidebook. The map exemplifies Colton’s reputation for quality and precision in the tremendous amount of information capably packed onto the sheet. The map focuses, of course, on the traveler’s needs, showing the nation’s railroad network and its concentration in the more industrialized areas of the country. Other details include towns, canals, and rivers. Mountain topography is especially good for the Appalachian chain and for the Rockies and Sierra Nevada in the inset map of the western United States.

A wonderful map of the United States in its centennial year and a fine record of the railroad system in the last third of the nineteenth-century.

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