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2007 Catalog > 54. Colton, Travelers’ Rail Road Map of the United States


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A Gorgeous Colton Pocket Map of the Transmississippi West

54. G. Woolworth & C. B. Colton. “Colton’s Map of the States and Territories West of Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean Showing the Overland Routes, Projected Rail Road Lines &c.” (New York: G. W. & C. B. Colton, 1877). Lithographed pocket map on bank note paper with fine, bright, original full and outline hand color. Elaborate vine border. 25 1/2 x 39 1/4" at neat line. Sheet size: 29 1/2 x 43 1/4". Original 12mo cloth covers with blindstamped design; title on front cover in gilt. Map is mint.

Price: SOLD

Perhaps 30 percent of the commercial railroad maps of the nineteenth century were produced by the New York City publishing company founded by Joseph Hutchins Colton in 1831. This firm was known the world over for the quality, quantity, and variety of its maps, atlases, and school geographies. In his History of the Railroads and Canals of the United States of America, Henry Varnum Poor commends the series of Colton railroad maps that illustrate his work: "All the maps are drawn and engraved under the supervision of G. Woolworth Colton, Esq., whose diligence, accuracy and extensive information are sufficient guarantee for their correctness."

This exceptional pocket map of the Transmississippi West is a prime example of the achievements of the Colton firm in commercial cartography. Lavishly colored and decorated, the map is not only accurate and well executed, it is also a beautiful production. Large and handsomely designed, the map shows the states west of the Mississippi in bright outline color for boundaries and full color for counties. The map extends from the Canadian border to the northern third of Texas. The density of settlement east of the Mississippi River is boldly contrasted by the sparseness of settlement in the West. Large, sprawling counties stand out in the less populated areas of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the Dakota Territory. Typical of Colton productions, the map is packed with information that includes railroads, cities and towns, routes, mines, forts, ruins, Indian lands, lakes, mountains, and rivers.

In mint condition, the map is a fine example of the late Colton style and a superb map of the American West in 1877.

Refs.: Andrew M. Modelski, Railroad Maps of North America: The First Hundred Years (Washington: Library of Congress, 1984), pp. ix–xxi; Phillips, Maps, p. 913; Rumsey, no. 3987 (1874 ed.); Streeter, vol. 5, no. 3072 (1864 ed.); Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, vol. V, no. 1099.

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