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1871 Separately Issued Folding Colton Map of the State of Nebraska

Colton's new sectional map of the state of Nebraska. - Main View

1871 Separately Issued Folding Colton Map of the State of Nebraska


Scarce Edition of a Separately Issued Folding Map of Nebraska Detailing the Union Pacific Railroad


Colton's new sectional map of the state of Nebraska.
  1871 (dated)     28 x 38 in (71.12 x 96.52 cm)     1 : 525000


This is a large, scarce 1871 Colton map of Nebraska. This separately-issued, folding map details the state four years after its admission to the Union, during the population boom brought on by the opening of the prairie - both by the ongoing forcible resettlement of Native American tribes, and by the completion in 1869 of the Union Pacific Railroad.
The Scope of the Map
The main map, colored by county, presents in large scale the state as far west as the confluence of the North and South Platte. The grid, indicating township surveys, is shown as far west as Grand Island City; beyond that, the surveyed area hews closely to the Platte and the route of the Union Pacific Railroad. Fort Kearny (misspelled Kearney on the map) appears prominently, despite the closing of the military post in the same year this edition of the map was published. In all the surveyed areas, rivers and streams are presented prominently while settlements are few and far between: the suggestion, that here was abundant land suitable for farming, is inescapable.
The Inset
The upper left hand quarter of the map is dominated by an inset showing the full state of Nebraska in relation to the neighboring states and territories. The comparison of Nebraska with the neighboring territories emphasizes the connection of the new state with the rest of the country, both by means of the Missouri River but also by its convenient co-location with the Union Pacific, running the length of the state.
Western Extension
Rather than re-engrave the entire map (when so much of the western extent of the state was but little surveyed,) Colton has added an appendix map extending from the western limit of the main map to the border of Wyoming. This extension, executed at the same scale as the main map, focuses specifically on the surveyed lands adjacent to the South Platte River and the route of the transcontinental railroad. In all, between the two sheets, the Union Pacific within Nebraska is exceptionally well detailed.
Publication History and Census
This separately-issued map was printed by the Colton firm in a number of issues, and sold as a separate folding map. Karrow lists editions of 1866, 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1873 and 1875. (The present 1871 edition does not appear in Karrow. The other editions are well represented in institutional collections; we find only one example of the 1871 in OCLC, at Harvard. We identify only three examples of the map to have been catalogued since 1962, and none in this edition.


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. He worked under Stiles as the 'Co.' in Stiles and Co. from 1833 to 1836. Colton quickly 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 so, 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, which lacked the border. 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 10,000 copies a large format map of that country. Although 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, after a congressional intervention, received as much as 100,000 USD in compensation. Nonetheless, 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 that led Colton into the arms of Alvin Jewett Johnson and Ross C. Browning. The 1859 edition of Colton's General 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 Colton's 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 wall maps, pocket maps, and guides. The last known publications of the Colton firm date to 1897 and include a map and a view, both issued in association with the Merchant's Association of New York. Alice M. Colton married August R. Ohman (May 3, 1859 - April 22, 1934) on January 5, 1897. In 1898, Ohman joined the Colton firm, which continued to publish as Colton, Ohman & Co. until 1901. Learn More...


Good condition. Some surface mends exhibitng loss at folds. Original boards separate but present.


Rumsey 1698.002. OCLC 859854409. Karrow 12-0399.