1860 Johnson Map of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona
Description: The scarcest and most historically significant of A. J. Johnson’s southwest series. This is the 1860 first edition of A. J. Johnson and Ross C. Browning’s map of California, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona. The map covers from the 42nd parallel south to the Mexico border and from the Pacific to modern day Colorado. Though later editions of the Johnson atlas are common, the 1860 edition, which was Johnson’s first, had the smallest print run of the entire series and for all intent and purposes, unobtainable.
Unlike most maps in the 1860 Johnson atlas, this map was a unique production and therefore not based upon the earlier atlas maps of J. H. Colton. Rather, it seems that Johnson derived this map by dissecting the plates of his 1859 wall map of North America and then incorporating, oftentimes superimposing, more contemporary detail.
Such is the case in the Nevada – Utah territory, where both territories are labeled Utah, despite being split in half along longitude 113 and the miss-mapped Sevier / Santa Clara River. Johnson revised this curious border to strictly adhere longitude 116 in the subsequent 1861 edition of this map. eastern Utah here extends well into modern day Colorado incorporating Middle Park, but not North Park and South Park, within its borders. The Colorado Gold Region, which was first discovered in 1858, is well labeled. Subsequent editions of this map, published in 1861 shortly after the incorporation of Colorado, revise this border to include the territory. Fillmore City is identified as the capital of Utah and a Mormon Settlement is noted along the Nevada – California border.
Of even greater interest in Johnson’s curious treatment of New Mexico and Arizona. Here the region is divided along the 34th parallel, with Arizona occupying the southern part of New Mexico. This configuration first appeared in wall maps of the United States and North America issued by Johnson and Colton in 1859. We have been able to discover no clear cause for this division, for it aligns neither with the Gadsden Purchase and presages the events of the Civil War. In 1860, when Johnson drew this map, New Mexico was a recognized territory, but Arizona was not. It could well be that Johnson and Colton were responding to appeals to congress by the residents of southern Arizona for recognition as a territory. With only a small population and minimal political influence this region was largely ignored by the New Mexico territorial government in distant Santa Fe. Though Arizona applied several times to be granted independent territorial status, its low population caused the request to be repeatedly denied. The latitudinal border between New Mexico and Arizona was subsequently removed in the 1861 edition. Remarkably, both Johnson and Colton proved remarkably prescient in setting this borderline, for little did they know that in 1861 the Confederate Col. John Robert Baylor would invade southern New Mexico and declare himself governor of the Confederate State of Arizona, which briefly reappears in the 1862 and 1863 Civil War editions of this map.
California, which enjoyed a population boost in the prior decade due to the 1849 Gold Rush, is naturally quite detailed with numerous towns, cities, mail routes, emigrant roads, and shipping lanes identified. This map also includes the routes of several exploratory missions commissioned by the U.S. Government, including Fremont, the Mexican Border Survey, Parke, Gunnison (along with the site of his tragic death), and Fredonyer.
It is further noteworthy that this example of Johnson’s map is in pristine condition – a rarity for any early edition of Johnson’s southwest and a special bonus in this supremely uncommon first edition. This map was published by A. J. Johnson and Ross Browning as plate nos. 54-55 in the 1860 edition of Johnson's New Illustrated (Steel Plate) Family Atlas. Rumsey has an example of this map in which the plate nos. are set at 47-48, further commenting that there was a later issue of the atlas published in the same year. This map is identical to the Rumsey example with the exception of the page numbers, leading us to believe it must have come from the 2nd 1860 issue of the first edition.
Date: 1860 (undated)
Source: Johnson, A. J., Johnson's New Illustrated (Steel Plate) Family Atlas, With Descriptions, Geographical, Statistical, And Historical. , 1860 (Johnson and Browning), 1st edition.
References: Rumsey 2905.031 (1860 edition). University of Nevada, Reno, Special Collections, G4300 1862 J646. Wheat, C. I., Mapping of the Transmississippi West, 1540-1861 (5 vols), #1027.
Cartographer: Alvin Jewett Johnson (September 23, 1827 - April 22, 1884) was a prolific American map publisher active from 1856 to the mid-1880s. Johnson was born into a poor family in Wallingford, Vermont where he received only a based public education. He is known to have worked as school teacher for several years before moving to Richmond, Virginia. Johnson got his first taste of the map business and a salesman and book canvasser for J. H. Colton and company. The earliest Johnson maps were published with D. Griffing Johnson (no clear relation) and date to the mid-1850s, however it was not until 1860 that the Johnson firm published its first significant work, the Johnson's New Illustrated (Steel Plate) Family Atlas. The publication of the Family Atlas followed a somewhat mysterious 1859 deal with the well-established but financially strapped J. H. Colton cartographic publishing firm. Although map historian Water Ristow speculates that Colton sold his copyrights to Johnson and his business partner, another Vermonter named Ross C. Browning (1832 - 1899), a more likely theory is that Johnson and Browning financially supported the Colton firm in exchange for the right to use Colton's existing copyrighted map plates. Regardless of which scenario actually occurred it is indisputable that the first Johnson atlas maps were mostly reissues of earlier Colton maps. Early on Johnson described his firm as the "Successors to J. H. Colton and Company". Johnson's business strategy involved transferring the original Colton steel plate engravings to cheaper lithographic stones, allowing his firm to produce more maps at a lower price point. In 1861, following the outbreak of the American Civil War the Johnson and Browning firm moved their office from Richmond, Virginia to New York City. Johnson and Browning published two editions of the Johnson Atlas in 1860 and 1861. Sometime in 1861 Browning's portion of the firm was purchased by Benjamin P. Ward, whose name subsequently replaced Browning's on the imprint. The 1863 issue of the Family Atlas was one of the most unusual, it being a compilation of older Johnson and Browning maps, updated 1862 Johnson and Ward map issues, and newer 1863 maps with a revised border design. The 1864 issue of the Family Atlas is the first true Johnson and Ward atlas. Johnson published one more edition of the atlas in partnership with Ward in 1865, after which Johnson seems to have bought out Ward's share the firm. The next issue of the Atlas, 1866, is the first purely "Johnson" atlas with all new map plates, updated imprints, and copyrights. The Family Atlas went through roughly 27 years of publication, from 1860 to 1887, outliving Johnson himself who died in 1884. Johnson maps from the Family Atlas are notable for their unique borders, of which there are four different designs, the "strapwork borer" from 1860 to 1863, the "fretwork border" from 1863 to 1869 and the "spirograph border" in 1870 – 1882, and a more elaborate version of the same from 1880-1887. In addition to the Family Atlas Johnson issued numerous wall maps, pocket maps, and in the 1880s the Cyclopedia. Johnson maps are known for their size, accuracy, detail, and stunning, vivid hand coloring. Johnson maps, purely American in their style and execution, chronicle some of the most important and periods in American history including the Civil War, the Westward Expansion, and the Indian Wars. Today Johnson's maps, especially those of the American west, are highly sought after by map collectors and historians. Click here for a list of rare maps by A. J. Johnson.
Size: Printed area measures 25 x 17.5 inches (63.5 x 44.45 centimeters)
Condition: Very good. Original centerfold. Even overall toning. Blank on verso.
Code: CaliforniaNewMexicoUtah-johnson-1860 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)