1866 Johnson Map of California, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah
Description: This is Johnson and Ward’s desirable 1866 map of the American south-west. Depicts the state of California and the territories of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Offers superb detail throughout noting mining districts, emigrant trails, the Santa Fe Trail, the Pony Express Route and several proposed railroads, as well as American Indian tribes, geological features, and local political divisions. Features the fretwork border common to Johnson’s atlas work from 1864 to 1869.
This important map went through several different states during its publication period from 1861 to 1870. This critical period of westward expansion saw incredible development and change throughout the region. Collecting the various states of this map has become something of a sub-genre for south-western map aficionados. Johnson updated the plates for this map annually and sometimes even issued multiple variants the course of a single year. This example, which was introduced in 1864, represents a complete re-engraving of the 1862-1863 map. Johnson added considerable detail in the mountainous regions of California, Nevada, and Colorado. Arizona and New Mexico appear as independent territories but, for the most part, adhere to the old “New Mexico” county structure. The southern boundary of Nevada with Arizona is set at 37 degrees of Latitude such that Las Vegas, which is noted, rests firmly within Arizona. The Utah-Nevada Border is set at 115 degrees of Longitude, roughly one degree further west than it is today.
Though copyrighted to 1864, this map was issued as plate nos. 66-67 in the 1866 edition of his New Illustrated Atlas…. It is identical to the 1864 edition which bore the same page numbers. This is the last edition of the Johnson’s 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, 1866.
References: Phillps (America) 619.
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 18 in height x 24 inches in width (45.72 x 60.96 centimeters)
Condition: Very good condition. Original centerfold. Text on verso. Verso repair to bottom margin just left of centerfold. Extremely bright and clean example.
Code: Southwest-johnson-1866 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)
© Geographicus Rare Antique Maps, Kevin Brown, 5/3/2015