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1846 Mitchell Map of Washington D.C. and Georgetown (first edition)


City of Washington.
Click on image for high resolution zoom.

Price: $300.00
Title:    City of Washington.

Description:    A scarce first edition example of S. A. Mitchell and H. N Borrough's 1846 map or plan of Washington D.C. Given that most of Washington D.C. was under construction when this map was drawn, Mitchell’s plan is a remarkable combination of existing of existing cartography and future projections. Though Pierre Charles L'Enfant’s brilliant plan for the national capital is evident in the grid and ray layout, and many of the great national monuments are identified, the practically of the national capital was that, even in 1854, more than 50 years after the city’s construction began, Washington D.C. remained little more than a ragtag cluster of Grecian monuments surrounded by dense forest. Anthony Trollop, an English novelist, remarked on the barrenness of D.C.,
There is a map of Washington accurately laid down; and taking that map with him in his journeying a man may lose himself in the streets, not as one loses himself in London between Shoreditch and Russell Square, but as one does so in the deserts of the Holy Land, between Emmaus and Arimathea. In the first place there no one knows where the places are, or is sure of their existence, and then, between their presumed localities the country is wild, trackless, unbridged, uninhabited, and desolate… If you are a sportsman, you will desire to shoot snipe within site of the President’s House.
Nonetheless, a city was emerging, with rail lines, bridges, parks, and city wards, surveyed and laid down for the construction teams. The Capitol Building, the floor plan of which appears in the upper right quadrant, was one of the first buildings in Washington to be completed and was functional by about 1846, though, admittedly, it was a very different building than we know today. A further list of extant and proposed monuments and government buildings, along with their wards and numerical identifiers, appears in the lower left quadrant.

This map was prepared by H.N. Burroughs as plate no. 16 in the 1846 edition of Mitchell’s New General Atlas.


Date:    1846 (dated)

Source:    Mitchell, S. A., A New Universal Atlas Containing Maps of the various Empires, Kingdoms, States and Republics Of The World. With a special map of each of the United States, Plans of Cities, (Mitchell, S. A., Philadelphia) 1846.    

References:    Rumsey 0537.017.

Cartographer:    Samuel Augustus Mitchell (March 20, 1792 - December 20, 1868) Senior began his map publishing career in the early 1830s. Having worked as a school teacher, Mitchell was frustrated with the low quality and inaccuracy of school texts of the period. His first maps were an attempt to rectify this problem. In the next 20 years Mitchell would become the most prominent American map publisher of the mid-19th century. Mitchell worked with prominent engravers J. H. Young, H. S. Tanner, and H. N. Burroughs before attaining the full copyright on his maps in 1847. In 1849 Mitchell teamed up with printer Cowperthwait & Company to produce the Mitchell's Universal Atlas and the Mitchell's General Atlas. In the late 1850s most of the Mitchell copyrights were bought by Desilver and Co. who continued to publish his maps, many with modified borders and color schemes, until Mitchell's son, Samuel Augustus Mitchell Junior, entered the picture. S.A. Mitchell Jr. purchased most of the copyrights back from Desilver and, from 1860 on, published his own New General Atlas. The younger Mitchell became as prominent as his father and published atlases well into the late 1880s when most of the copyrights were again sold and the Mitchell firm closed its doors for the final time. Click here for a list of rare maps from Samuel Augustus Mitchell.

Cartographer:    H. N. Burroughs (fl. c. 1835 - c. 1860) was an engraver based in Pennsylvania and active in the early 19th century. Burroughs is an extremely elusive figure who work appears almost exclusively in conjunction with that of Samuel Augustus Mitchell Sr. His name appears on the 1846 copyrights of many of Mitchell's earliest and most important atlas and pocket maps. Following 1846, Burroughs seems to have retired from cartography or changed careers. There are records of one H. N. Burroughs who owned a Pennsylvania coal mining company, and another who was president of a New York Bank. Whether or not these are the same individual is unknown. Click here for a list of rare maps by H. N. Borroughs.

Size:   Printed area measures 17.5 x 12.5 inches (44.45 x 31.75 centimeters)

Scale:    1 : 22000

Condition:    Very good. Minor discoloraiton lower left quadrant)

Code:   WashingtonDC-mitchell-1846 (to order by phone call: 646-483-0487)

Tags:    Washington DC , Borroughs , Mitchell

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