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1866 Johnson Map of the United States


Johnson's United States.
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Title:    Johnson's United States.

Description:    This is Johnson and Wardís 1866 map of the United States. Johnsonís map covers the entirety of the United States as well as adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico, revealing the country at a critical historical junction just following the American Civil War. Most states are depicted much as they exist today, with a few notable exceptions: Arizona extends westward into what is today the Las Vegas region of Nevada; Dakotas are a single large territory; Oklahoma is still named the Indian Territory; and Wyoming has a western panhandle extending into what is today Montana. Several important transcontinental routes are noted including the four proposed routes for the Pacific Railroad: Gov. Stevens route or the Northern Pacific Route, the Central Pacific Route, the Union Pacific Route, and the Southern pacific Route. Also notes the course of the Santa Fe Trail, the Pony Express or U.S. Mail Route, and the tracks of Fremont and Marcy.

Surrounded by the fretwork style border common to Johnsonís atlas maps issued between 1863 and 1869. Steel plate engraving prepared by A. J. Johnson for publication as plates no. 20 and 21 in the 1866 edition of his New Illustrated AtlasÖ This is the last edition of the Johnsonís Atlas to bear the Johnson and Ward imprint.


Date:    1866 (dated 1864)

Source:    Johnson, A. J., Johnson's New Illustrated Family Atlas of The World with Physical Geography, and with Descriptions Geographical, Statistical, and Historic including The Latest Federal Census, A Geographical Index, and a Chronological History of the Civil War in America, (last Johnson and Ward), 1866.    

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 Ė 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 23.5 x 17.5 inches (59.69 x 44.45 centimeters)

Condition:    Very good. Minor verso repair and reinforcement on original centerfold. Even overall toning.

Code:   UnitedStates-johnson-1866 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)


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