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2008 Catalog > 17. Nell, 1895 Colorado

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Nell’s Outstanding 1895 Map of Colorado
A benchmark for Colorado cartography

17. Louis Nell. “Nell’s New Topographical Map of the State of Colorado Compiled from U.S. Government Surveys & Other Authentic Sources” (Denver: Hamilton & Kendrick, 1895). Photolithographed pocket map with fine bright printed color and fine original outline hand color. 28 1/2 x 39 1/4" at neat line. Sheet size: 32 1/4 x 41". Together with 12mo brown cloth covers with title in gilt on front cover. Text describing the map on pastedown. Covers are worn and soiled. The registration on the map is slightly off on the right. Overall, the map is fine with superior color.

Price: SOLD [ Order ]

This remarkably detailed and exceptional map of Colorado is one of a number of editions issued by various publishers in the 1880s and 1890s. Originally created by German emigrant and surveyor Louis Nell, the map debuted in 1880 in Crofutt’s Grip-Sack Guide to Colorado, one of the first guidebooks of the state. The map itself was a huge commercial success and Nell subsequently revised it for the pocket format exemplified by the 1895 edition offered here.

Click for image of cloth cover

Nell’s map is easily the most complete one to appear after statehood (1876) and represents a meticulous exercise in compiling all of the current geographical and topographical data. Consequently, the map was, as the Denver publishers Hamilton and Kendrick note about the present edition, “the most complete and accurate one ever published and shows all the information useful to settlers, miners and travelers, vis: The New Mining Camps, the latest Land Office surveys, the lands of the Ute Reservation, thrown open to settlement, all the modes of transportation, as railroads, roads, and practicable mountain trails, the United States Timber Reserves, the principal irrigation canals in south-eastern Colorado and the more important ranches in those parts where villages are scarce. The map exhibits over 2000 altitudes of Mountains, Passes, Railroad Stations and other towns in feet above sea level.”

Beautifully designed, the map is printed in full color by county, and it is also hand-colored in areas of vivid pink to indicate Indian reservations and private land grants. Hand-colored outlines further delineate land grants and timber reserves. Nell organizes an amazing amount of detail with great clarity, including complex topographical contours, townships subdivided and surveyed, county seats, post offices, military reserves, villages, towns, arable lands by basin, and astronomical positions of seven main towns.

Shortly after Nell’s arrival in the United States, the U.S. Army hired him as a chief topographer for government surveys west of the hundredth meridian. From 1871 to 1879, he worked on the Wheeler Geological Surveys, where he honed his fine, precise style as well as acquiring a significant amount of information about the American West that he later incorporated in his own cartographic publications. When his Army duties ended, he chose to settle in Denver where he produced high-quality maps of his adopted home state. He was the most important mapmaker during this period in Colorado, and his skills are apparent in the present map.

A superb example, Nell’s Colorado is undoubtedly the best large-format map of the state produced in the late nineteenth century and an essential addition to any Colorado collection.

Refs.: Erl H. Ellis, Colorado Mapology, no. 83; Phillips, Maps, p. 243 (1880 ed.); Rumsey, no. 662 (1883 ed.).

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