Georgetown and The City of Washington The Capital of The United States of America.
1856 (dated 1855) 14 x 17 in (35.56 x 43.18 cm)
A beautiful 1855 first edition example of Colton's map of Washington D.C. and Georgetown. Like most of Colton's state maps, this map was derived from an earlier wall map of North America produced by Colton and D. Griffing Johnson. Covers the city in incredible detain from Georgetown (Georgetown University, then college shown) in the upper left quadrant to Alexander's Island in the south and as far east as Magazine Warf. The map is a lithographic engraving covering the nation's capital shortly before the outbreak of the American Civil War. Notes numerous important buildings including the Capitol, the Smithsonian Institution, the White House (not yet called the White House), the Washington Monument, the National Observatory, the Navel Yard, the Poor House, the Arsenal, Penitentiary and others.
The city's famous grid and ray structure appear according to L'enfant's brilliant plan. Georgetown appears as a separate entity in the upper left corner with Georgetown College noted just outside the city border. Also shown are proposed landfills and extensions to the east side of the city into the east branch of the Potomac River. The map also contains illustrated views of The Smithsonian Institute, Washington Monument and the Capitol Building. The second dome of the Capitol Building (the first was a smaller, green copper dome) is shown complete in the upper right hand quadrant of this map, though in fact it was only partially built when this map was issued.
Surrounded by Colton's typical spiral motif border. Dated and copyrighted to J. H. Colton, 1855. Published from Colton's 172 William Street Office in New York City. Issued as page no. 24 in volume 1 of Colton's 1856 Atlas of the World.
Joseph Hutchins Colton (July 5, 1800 - July 29, 1893), often publishing as J. H. Colton, was an important American map and atlas publisher active from 1833 to 1897. Colton's firm arose from humble beginnings when he moved to New York in 1831 and befriended the established engraver Samuel Stiles. Colton recognized an emerging market in railroad maps and immigrant guides. Not a cartographer or engraver himself, Colton's initial business practice mostly involved purchasing the copyrights of other cartographers, most notably David H. Burr, and reissuing them with updated engraving and border work. His first maps, produced in 1833, were based on earlier Burr maps and depicted New York State and New York City. Between 1833 and 1855 Colton would proceed to publish a large corpus of guidebooks and railroad maps which proved popular. In the early 1850s Colton brought his two sons, George Woolworth Colton (1827 - 1901) and Charles B. Colton (1832 - 1916), into the map business. G. W. Colton, trained as a cartographer and engraver, was particularly inspired by the idea of creating a large and detailed world atlas to compete established European firms for the U.S. market. In 1855 G.W. Colton issued volume one the impressive two volume Colton's Atlas of the World. Volume two followed a year later. Possibly because of the expense of purchasing a two volume atlas set, the sales of the Atlas of the World did not meet Colton's expectations and it was thus that, in 1856, the firm also issued the atlas as a single volume. The maps contained in this superb work were all original engravings and most bear an 1855 copyright. All of the maps were surrounded by an attractive spiral motif border that would become a hallmark of Colton's atlas maps well into the 1880s. In 1857 the slightly smaller Colton's General Atlas replaced the Atlas of the World. Most early editions of the General Atlas published from 1857 to 1859 do not have the trademark Colton spiral border, which was removed to allow the maps to fit into a smaller format volume. Their customers must have missed the border because it was reinstated in 1860 and remained in all subsequent publications of the atlas. There were also darker times ahead, in 1858 Colton was commissioned at sum of 25,000 USD by the government of Bolivia to produce and deliver 10000 copies a large format map of that country. Though Colton completed the contract in good faith, delivering the maps at his own expense, he was never paid by Bolivia, which was at the time in the midst of a series national revolutions. Colton would spend the remainder of his days fighting with the Bolivian and Peruvian governments over this payment and in the end received as much as 100,000 USD in compensation. However, at the time, it must have been a disastrous blow. J. H. Colton and Company is listed as one of New York's failed companies in the postal record of 1859. It must have been this event which led Colton into the arms of Alvin Jewett Johnson and Ross C. Browning. The 1859 edition of Colton's Atlas lists Johnson and Browning as the "Successor's to J. H. Colton" suggesting an outright buyout, but given that both companies continued to publish separately, the reality is likely more complex. Whatever the case may have been, this arrangement gave Johnson and Browning access to many of Colton's map plates and gave birth to Johnson's New Illustrated (Steel Plate) Family Atlas. The Johnson's Atlas was published parallel to the Colton atlas well in to the 1880s. The Colton firm itself subsequently published several other atlases including an Atlas of America, the Illustrated Cabinet Atlas, the Octavo Atlas of the Union, and Colton's Quarto Atlas of the World. They also published a large corpus of pocket maps and guides. The last known publications of the Colton firm dated to 1897 and include a map and a view, both issued in association with the Merchant's Association of New York. In 1898 the Colton firm merged with the Ohman Firm and continued to published as Colton, Ohman & Co. until 1901.
Colton, G. W., Colton's Atlas of the World, illustrating Physical and Political Geography, (J. H. Colton and Company: New York) Vol 1, 1856.
Very good. Blank on verso. Even overall toning.
Rumsey 0149.030 (1856 edition). Phillips (Atlases) 816.