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1855 Colton Map of the World on Mercator's Projection


Colton's Map of The World on Mercator's Projection.
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Title:    Colton's Map of The World on Mercator's Projection.

Description:    An excellent 1855 first edition example of Colton's map of the World on a Mercator's Projection. This map is a reduction and re-engraving of Colton's important 1848 wall map of the world. Colton offers a fascinating snapshot of the world during a period of rapid globalization and discovery. This map depicts the entire world centered on the Americas. The map identifies the routes taken by various influential late 18th century explorers including Cook, Vancouver, Vincennes, and Perouse. A note at the bottom of the map describes the 1841 discoveries of Mt. Terror and Mt. erebus in Antarctica by Captain Ross. Much of central Africa is described as 'Unexplored Regions', and both Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika have yet to appear. The Antarctic continent is shown only embryonically, representing the relatively primitive state of Antarctic exploration at the time. This map also identifies various cities, towns, rivers, mountains and an assortment of additional topographical details. Map is hand colored in pink, green, yellow and blue pastels to define national and regional boundaries. 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 nos. VIII and IX in volume 2 of Colton's 1855 Atlas of the World.

Date:    1855 (dated)

Source:    Colton, G. W., Colton's Atlas of the World Illustrating Physical and Political Geography, Vol 1, New York, 1855 (First Edition).    

References:    Rumsey 0149.006 (1856 edition). Phillips (Atlases) 816.

Cartographer:    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.Click here for a list of rare maps from Joseph Hutchins Colton.

Size:   Printed area measures 28 x 18.5 inches (71.12 x 46.99 centimeters)

Condition:    Very good. Blank on verso. Minor discoloration along left side of map near margin. Narrow margins top and bottom. Verso reinforcement at few places near margin.

Code:   WorldMercator2-colton-1855 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)


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