1853 Thayer Pictorial Wall Map of the United States

Pictorial Map of the United States. - Main View

1853 Thayer Pictorial Wall Map of the United States


The Westward Expansion.


Pictorial Map of the United States.
  1853 (dated)     31 x 43 in (78.74 x 109.22 cm)     1 : 6336000


An appealing and highly decorative 1853 wall map of the United States. Issued by Horace Thayer, this map was drawn and engraved by J. M. Atwood. Coverage embraces the United States from Atlantic to Pacific and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The map illustrates an ephemeral period in the development of the American West with each of its five known editions exhibiting significant changes and updates. The present example, representing the fourth edition, reveals major developments in the American west following the events of the 1849 Gold Rush.
A Closer Look
The Gold Region itself is highlighted with Sacramento and Sutter's City noted. Great Salt Lake is presented in an embryonic form and indicative of the generally poor knowledge of the Great Basin predating the Railroad Surveys being conducted as this map went to press. Salt Lake City itself is identified as 'Utah City of the Great Salt Lake.' The rail lines at this time extended westward no further than the Mississippi River, after which only wagon trails extended to the Pacific. Many of these are noted including the 'Route to Oregon' (the famous Oregon Trail), the 'Route to Santa Fe,' and the southern route from 'Fort Smith to Santa Fe.' Other routes presented are the tracks of Fremont and the 'Great Spanish Trail from Los Angeles to Santa Fe.' Texas shows some development including an embryonic rail system running between Austin and the port of Galveston. Nebraska extends northwards to the Canadian border and both Washington and Oregon have their eastern terminus at the Rocky Mountains. The apocryphal Louis Fork or southern extension of the Columbia River, named after Meriwether Lewis, is shown in southeastern Oregon. American Indian nations are identified throughout. A smaller map of Mexico appears on the lower left quadrant.
The Pictorial Surround
True its descriptive title the map is surrounded by numerous pictorial vignettes illustrating, from the title clockwise: the Presidents of the United States, Perry's Opening of Japan, the Landing of the Pilgrims in 1620, farm tools, the 1846 Battle of Monterrey (Mexican American War), the United States House of Representatives Chamber, an illustration of Justice personified, the signing of the Declaration of Independence (largest illustration, bottom center), a personification of Liberty, the Senate Chamber, the capture of General La Vega 1846 (Mexican American War), weapons and armor, the landing of Columbus 1492, the Constitution and Guerriere (Navy Ships), and again, the Presidents.
Publication History and Census
This map was first issued by Ensign and Thayer in 1847. It was republished by Ensign and Thayer in 1849 (Rumsey 5057), 1850, and 1852 (Rumsey 3508), and then in its present form by Thayer alone in 1853, and again Ensign, Bridgman and Fanning in 1854, and 1855 (Rumsey 265). A final edition by Ensign, Bridgman and Fanning appeared in 1858.


Horace Thayer (June 29, 1811 - March 15, 1875) was a New York based publisher and lithographer active in New York City and Buffalo, New York, during the middle part of the 19th century. Thayer's publications focused on travel guides, wall, and pocket maps - many of which were based on the works of other American cartographers including J. H. Colton and S. A. Mitchell. In the 1840s, he partnered with the Hartford, Connecticut publisher Timothy Ensign (1795 - 1849) and later his son, Edward hooker Ensign (1818 - 1871). According to map historian Walter Ristow, J. H. Colton's older son, George Washington Colton, partnered with Thayer in the late 1850s and early 1860s, possibly in order to learn Thayer's lithography techniques. Certainly a number maps emerged bearing a "Thayer and Colton" imprint. At various points Thayer also published with other prominent publishers and printmakers, publishing as Kelloggs and Thayer (1846 - 1847), Ensigns and Thayer (1848), Ensign and Thayer (1849 - 1850), and Ensign, Thayer, and Company (1850 - 1851), Phelps and Watson (1859), and Thayer and Colton (1859-186?). Thayer seems to have moved frequently and had offices at 50 Ann Street, 156 William Street, and at 18 Beekman Street, all in New York City. Learn More...

John M. Atwood (1817 - October 12, 1884) was an American engraver based in Philadelphia and New York City during the middle part of the 19th century. Atwood was born in Georgetown, near Washington D.C. Little is known of Atwood's life but most of his work was completed in conjunction with the publishing firms of Horace Thayer and J. H. Colton. A review of Atwood's work suggests that he was a highly accomplished, stylistically distinct, and detail oriented engraver. Colton seems to have turned to Atwood to engrave some of his most important as well as decorative maps. His most influential map is most likely the 1856 De Cordova pocket map of Texas, however, he also engraved the Colton's well known and highly decorative Thirty Three Miles Around New York and Colton's important 1849 Map of the United States. Learn More...


Very good. Unrestored original condition.


Rumsey 5057.000 (1849), 5380.000 (1847). Manasek, F.J., Collecting Old Maps, p.49.