1863 Public Survey Map of California
Description: An attractive and uncommon map of California and parts of Nevada issued by the Surveyor General in 1863. The map covers all of California as well as the western parts of Nevada near Lake Tahoe and Carson City. Remarkably, a list of 438 'Private Grants Finally Surveyed' appearing in the lower left quadrant numerically identifies corresponding colored zones on the map proper. These refer to Spanish-Mexican land grants throughout California of which this is most likely to be the earliest map to specifically detail. The present map is intended by the U.S. Government to certify and formally recognize these grants, including lands granted to the Church around the various missions as well as private grants. Other surveyed lands are highlighted in orange while unsurveyed lands are left uncolored. The massive Tulare Lake is noted, once the largest freshwater lake in North America, practically a sea, which has since been drained for irrigation purposes. Throughout topography is rendered in hachure. The Land Office Survey Department issued this map in 11 editions from 1854 to 1864, this being the 10 and thus one of the most advanced, issues. Compiled by E.F. Beale, Surveyor General, and engraved and lithographed by Jospeh Bien of 24 Vesey Street, New York.
Date: 1863 (dated)
Source: Annual Report of the Surveyor General, 38th Congress, 1st Session, 1863 (Washington) 1863.
References: Rumsey 1073.010. Wheat, Carl Irving, Mapping of the Transmississippi West, 1540-1861, 1050 (1862).
Cartographer: The General Land Office, created in 1812, was an independent agency charged with the administration and sale of public lands of the western territories of the United States under the Preemption Act of 1841 and the Homestead Act of 1862. During a time of frenetic energy and rapid westward expansion, the Land Office oversaw the surveying, platting, mapping and eventually the sale of much of the Western United States and Florida. The structural layout of the western United States that we see today, and many of their district and county divisions, are direct result of the early surveying work of the General Land Office. More importantly, as a branch of the Federal Government in Washington D.C. and the only agency able to legally sell and administer public lands in the western territories of the United States, the General Land Office played a pivotal role in consolidating power away from the original states and into the hand of the centralized federal government. The General Land Office was absorbed into the Department of Interior in 1849 and in 1946 merged with the United States Grazing Service to become the Bureau of Land Management. Today the Bureau of Land Management administers the roughly 246 million acres of public land remaining under federal ownership. Click here for a list of rare maps from The General Land Office.
Cartographer: Joseph R. Bien was a topographer and an engineer working the later part of the 19th century. His name appears a number of state and regional atlases, including the important 1895 Atlas of New York. Most of Joseph Bien's work was published in conjunction with the New York Lithographing, Engraving & Printing Company, which was founded by Julius Bien. Joseph was almost certainly related to Julien, though whether he was a son, cousin, or brother, remains unknown. Click here for a list of rare maps from Joseph R. Bien.
Size: Printed area measures 31 x 36 inches (78.74 x 91.44 centimeters)
Scale: 1 : 1140480
Condition: Very good. Backed on archival tissue for stability. Some toning on original fold lines and wear at fold intersections.
Code: CaliforniaNevada-pubicsurvey-1863 (to order by phone call: 646-483-0487)
Tags: Westward Migration , U.S. Government Map , Land Grants