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2008 Catalog > 8. J.H. Colton, State of Iowa


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8. J. H. Colton. “Colton’s Township Map of the State of Iowa” (New York: J. H. Colton, 1851). Lithographed pocket map with fine, bright original full and outline hand color. With original green cloth boards with extensive decorative embossing on front and back and title in gilt on front. Paper label on inside front cover lists numerous maps available in both “mounted and pocket form.” 23 3/4 x 28 1/4" including the lovely decorative leaf and vine border. Sheet size: 28 1/8 x 29 1/2". Table at left shows the population by county. Covers have a hint of wear. Map has a few faint scattered spots; a couple of minor printer’s wrinkles. Overall, fine condition with great color.

Price: SOLD [ Order ]

J. H. Colton’s excellent mid-nineteenth-century map of Iowa focuses on settlement information that includes townships and ranges, towns and villages, canals, common roads, the state capital, and individually hand-colored counties. The development of the state is concentrated in the eastern counties, with the northern and western areas nearly blank. Railroad routes are also mostly confined to the eastern third of the map, but projected railroads are already appearing in dashed lines. A railroad frenzy swept Iowa in the early 1850s as city officials in the river communities of Dubuque, Clinton, Davenport, and Burlington began to organize local railroad companies. They knew that railroads building west from Chicago would soon reach the Mississippi River opposite the four Iowa cities. With Chicago’s pre-eminence as a railroad center, the corn, wheat, beef, and pork raised by Iowa’s farmers could be shipped through Chicago and across the nation to eastern seaports.

Click for image of cloth cover

Iowa was one of the thirty Public Land states that were surveyed by the General Land Office using the new rectangular system whereby land was partitioned into township and range. Colton includes a lengthy note on the map explaining how to use the township and range system to locate specific parcels.

One of the most important American commercial mapmakers of the nineteenth century, J. H. Colton and Company for years specialized in the publication of pocket maps, wall maps, and guides before embarking on the firm’s first atlas in 1855. The Colton company also discovered a market for railroad and township maps and sold thousands of them between 1850 and 1887. G. W. Colton was the eldest son of the founder, J. H. Colton, and took over the business with his brother Charles in about 1867.

A beautiful example, with strong color, of this desirable map of Iowa in the mid-nineteenth century and published in the now scarce pocket format.

Refs.: Phillips, Maps, p. 337 (1862 ed.); Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, p. 318.

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