1866 Higginson Insurance Map of the Austro-Prussian War

Map of the Seat of the War in Europe. - Main View

1866 Higginson Insurance Map of the Austro-Prussian War


Battle for the Heart of Europe.


Map of the Seat of the War in Europe.
  1866 (dated)     19 x 25 in (48.26 x 63.5 cm)     1 : 2600000


A scarce, unrecorded 1866 map by publisher Joseph H. Higginson produced for the Home Insurance Company of New York during the Austro-Prussian War. It was issued as a means of reassurance to clients that their assets would be safe despite turbulent global events.
A Closer Look
A portion of western and central Europe is displayed stretching from Paris in the west to Warsaw in the east, and from Schleswig in the north to Bologna and Genoa in the south. Cities and towns are noted, while the names of regions and states are overlaid in larger text. Railway lines and major roads are traced, often with the distances between cities noted, and on water the course and distance of routes between major ports are recorded. Three inset maps at right provide a closer view of the territory around Konigsberg, Krakow, and Belgrade.

It is likely that the map was produced in the early phase of the conflict (around June 1866), when its course and major battlefields were unknown. In the event, the war's decisive battles took place around the Main River and in Bohemia. The green shading of some territories, including Switzerland, Holland, and the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, may have been meant to indicate neutrality in the conflict, though in the last case this would have been inaccurate.
The Austro-Prussian War
An important event in the unification of Germany, the Austro-Prussian War pitted the two heavyweights of the German-speaking world and sometime allies against each other. The conflict was the result of decades of tension between the two states that manifested primarily through a tussle for influence within the German Confederation that was created in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars (more-or-less replacing the Holy Roman Empire). Although Prussia was initially at a disadvantage, constrained by both Austria and Russia, military modernization and clever diplomatic maneuvers masterminded by Otto von Bismarck allowed the kingdom to quietly lay the groundwork for German unification on its own terms, through 'blood and iron' in Bismarck's memorable phrase. This only became evident in the Second Schleswig War (1864), when a modernized Prussian army demonstrated its full capability, increasing support for German unification under Prussian leadership throughout the Confederation. After the war, Prussia and Austria divided the administration of the conquered territory of Schleswig-Holstein, but by early 1866 this arrangement had caused disputes, which set against the background of long-building tensions put the two states on the path towards a showdown.

Aside from boasting a more modern military, Prussia also had a better understanding of the importance of rapid mobilization and railways for warfare. Moreover, Bismarck had arranged for the recently-established Kingdom of Italy to join any potential conflict, opening a second front against Austria, which still controlled the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. Once hostilities began, the Prussian army was able to amass and move with great speed, winning a series of battles against Austria and the forces of several other German kingdoms and states, including Bavaria, Saxony, and Hanover. After the conflict, Prussia's territory expanded and its influence within German lands became preponderant, with a more unified North German Confederation swamping the remaining independent states to the south. Prussia clearly emerged from the war as one of the major states of Europe, and maintained momentum towards German unification, achieved during the Franco-Prussian War three years later.
The Home Insurance Company
The Home Insurance Company (HIC) was founded in 1853 by a collective of New York merchants headed by Simeon Loomis (1767 - 1865). At the time, merchants could not find a reliable insurer for their properties and goods. The firm began with an initial cash infusion of $500,000 USD, and pioneered practices that became common throughout the industry. In particular, it sold its services through independent agents operating nationally. The company also hired surveyors to examine buildings covered under its policies to assess risk.

By 1863, they were one of the largest fire insurance companies in the United States. Despite setbacks during the American Civil War (1861 - 1865), the HIC continued to increase its customer base, premiums, and capital reserve, increasing its capital reserve from $500,000 to $1,000,000 by 1863. By 1864, they increased it again, to $2,000,000. HIC developed a reputation for prompt payment and strategically expanded nationally while avoiding litigation through settling. Despite several large city-wide fires in Portland, Maine, Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Glens Falls, New York, the company continued to prosper. Disaster struck in 1871, when the Great Chicago Fire consumed more than $200 million in property. The HIC was able to raise additional capital to pay the claims, but the Great Chicago Fire transformed the national fire insurance industry - prompting leaders to promote fire-proof construction, city-wide fire protection, and general risk management. The proactive measures instituted at HIC contributed to the development of the modern insurance industry. The company is also notable for commissioning the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, completed in 1885, that is generally considered to be the world's first skyscraper.

HIC survived the Great Depression and World War II but was badly impacted by the economic downturns of the 1970s, and afterwards went through mergers, restructuring, renamings, and the selling off of portions of the business, though a core business remained. In February 1991, Home Insurance was purchased by TVH Acquisition Corporation, an investor group whose principal partners include Trugg-Hansa Holding AB - Sweden’s second-largest insurer - and Industrial Mutual Insurance - Finland’s second-largest insurer. The firm remains active under this umbrella company.
Publication History and Census
This map was published in 1866 by Joseph H. Higginson for the Home Insurance Company, which occasionally sponsored maps of this sort, including one portraying the seat of the U.S. Civil War (by Daniel Addison Heald, previously sold by us). We are unable to locate any other examples of the map in institutional collections or on the market.


Joseph H. Higginson (c. 1820 - 1871) was a surveyor and map publisher based in New York City. Little information on Higginson's life and training is available, aside from his being born around 1820 (some records state that he was born in Maine, while others suggest he was born in England and became a naturalized citizen in 1856). From around 1860, he produced a series of maps related to Brooklyn and New York (Manhattan), as well as other American cities, and maps relating to contemporary wars (the U.S. Civil War, Austro-Prussian War, and the Franco-Prussian War). Though he resided in Brooklyn, records indicate that his business was located at 77 Chambers St. in Manhattan. He died in 1871 and was buried in Green-wood Cemetery. More by this mapmaker...


Good. Even overall toning with wear on old fold lines. Some verso repair and reinstatement of sleight loss at several fold intersections.