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2007 Catalog > 63. Ord, Sketch of the Gold & Quicksilver District of California.


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“Most important of all the maps of 1848 . . .
The first map to make any pretense at cartographical accuracy after the gold discoveries.”


—Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region

63. Edward Otho Cresap Ord. “Topographical Sketch of the Gold & Quicksilver District of California, July 25th 1848” (Philadelphia: P. S. Duval, 1848). Published to accompany the President’s [Polk’s] Message to Congress of December 5, 1848 (H.R. Ex. Doc. No. 1, 30th Cong., 2nd sess.). Lithographed folding map in black and white, as issued. 21 1/2 x 15 3/8" at neat line. Sheet size: 22 1/4 x 16 7/8". Minor toning along old folds; upper margin unevenly trimmed. Excellent condition overall.

Price: SOLD

Army Lieutenant Edward O. C. Ord’s map of the gold region was published in the first official government account of the discovery of gold in California. As Schwartz and Ehrenberg have noted: “Discovery of gold at Sutter’s sawmill in January 1848 spurred the production of western maps as did no other single event, particularly after President James Polk confirmed the discovery in his annual message to Congress on December 5”—the document in which the present map appeared. This map, according to Schwartz and Ehrenberg, “merits recognition. Ord’s map was copied by J. T. Lawson and sold through advertisements in the New York Tribune, beginning January 9, 1849.”

Prepared only six months after the Sutter’s Mill discovery, the map, writes Wheat, “depicts almost the whole of the Central Valley in commendable detail, naming nearly all the streams, and denoting those on which gold had been found ‘as far as examined.’ . . . Ord’s map was the first which pretended to reflect actual conditions at the mines, and must therefore be held to be of paramount importance in any cartographic considerations of the gold rush.” He continues: “It is an excellent map for other reasons. The San Francisco Bay region is carefully delineated, and the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers are accurately portrayed from ‘Red Creek,’ on the north, to the Merced River, on the south.”

Highly recommended for collectors of the Gold Rush and early California history.

Refs.: Schwartz and Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, pp. 278–279; Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, vol. III, no. 565, pp. 52–53; Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region, no. 54 (illus.), pp. xxii–xxiii; Wheat, 25 Maps of California, no. 5.

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