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1859 Colton and Ondarza's Wall Map of BoliviauBolivia-colton-1859
When Bolivia gained its independence, the country was little more than a grab bag of warring regions. Self-rule caught it unprepared. It lacked political institutions, a governing class, a working constitution. Only the military could preserve the peace, and so it happened that he who ran the army ran the country. (Lawlor 1989: 137-38).Military men have always been quick to realize the importance of cartography and the military dictators, the caudillos of Bolivia, realized that an accurate map was the first step in consolidating and centralizing power. The first national map of Bolivia was issued in 1843 by the French surveyor Felipe Bertres (Mapa Corografico de la Republica de Bolivia, 1:2,400,000, Arrowsmith, London), but not being based on an actual survey work, was found to be rife with error. Even before Bertres published his map, the military surveyors Ondarza and Mujia had been dispatched to complete a full scientific survey of the country. This was thus the first concerted effort to produce a detailed astronomical survey of Bolivia. The work, which took some 16 years, was described by Ondarza,
Strewn with immense, colossal, and terrible dangers, having to cross the country from one end to another, through primeval forests, wilderness, deep valleys and unhealthy, high, and inaccessible mountain ranges and frigid , raging rivers and finally compromising life apart from the savage tribes with whom we daily saw open struggle. (Author's translation from original Spanish, below)While Ondarza was busy completing the national survey of Bolivia, a pro-civilian 1857 military coup d'etat established Jose Maria Linares as Bolivia's new president. A progressive leader who anticipated a bright future for Bolivia, Linares enthusiastically supported Ondarza's survey and pushed for its publication in the form of a grand new national map. On March 8th of 1858 Ondarza was sent by the Linares government on a tour of Europe and the United States to contract a map publisher capable of consolidating the results of his massive survey into a single produced work.
Labor inmensa, colosal y sembrada de terribles peligros, teniendo que recorrer el país de un confín a otro, a través de selvas vírgenes, desiertas, vegas profundas y malsanas, cordilleras altas e inaccesibles y frígidas, ríos caudalosos y en fin comprometiendo la vida, aparte de las tribus salvajes que a diario se veían en lucha abierta con ellos.
I myself had had to pay seven per cent [interest], and, in some cases, considerably more than seven per cent, for money to sustain me in the very business wherein Bolivia, in consequence of having failed to fulfill her equitable obligations, greatly embarrassed and crippled me.J. H. Colton and Company appears on the bankrupt rolls of the 1859 New York Postal Register. It is unclear exactly what happened at this point, but what is clear is that Colton came to an unspecified agreement, presumably in the form of some sort of financial bailout, with Alvin J. Johnson and Ross Browning. Colton either licensed or sold his atlas printing plates to Johnson and Browning. In 1859 Colton's signature publication, the General Atlas give's credit to the new firm of 'Johnson and Browning.' Subsequently, in 1860, Johnson and Browning issued their own atlas, the first edition of Johnson's New Illustrated (Steel Plate) Family Atlas, which identified Colton as the publisher. Johnson's atlas, while making use of the Colton map plates, was a cheaper production and consequently more accessible. It enjoyed enormous commercial success, catapulting Johnson to become the world's largest publisher by 1864. As for Colton, he continued to publish his own Colton's General Atlas but seems to have shared map plates with Johnson for the remainder of his career.
Juan Ondarza Lara (May 17, 1827 - January 7, 1875) was a Bolivian soldier, engineer, and geographer. He was born in Sucre, Bolivia, on May 17, 1827. Ondarza joined the Bolivian Army at 13 years and, after being decorated in the Battle of Ingava, joined the Army Topographical Bureau (Topografica del Ejercito) and was educated under the tutelage of French immigrant Felipe Bertres. Bertres issued a map of Bolivia in 1843, but this was found to be rife with error. Ondarza, along with assistants Juan Mariano Mujia and to a lesser extent Lucio Camacho, were commissioned to complete a thorough survey of the country. They invested 14 years in the project: 11 years traveling throughout Bolivia taking astronomical observations, and 3 years compiling the relevant information. Ondarza, along with Juan Mariano Mujia, then traveled to the United States and Europe searching for a publisher for his great map. While in the United States Ondarza joined the National Academy of Sciences, in England, the Royal Geographical Society, and in France, the Paris Geographical Society. His map was finally published in 1959 by the American cartographic publisher J. H. Colton. Ondarza subsequently returned to Bolivia where he fell afoul of the new corrupt government of Mariano Melgarejo and forced into exile. He returned to Bolivia in 1872 during the subsequent administration of Tomas Frias Ametller. Afterwards he explored Lake Titicaca before dying in La Paz on January 7, 1875. His brother, Abdon Ondarza is also famous for founding the coastal city of Antofagasta (then Bolivia, now Chile). Learn More...
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...
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This copy is copyright protected.
Copyright © 2023 Geographicus Rare Antique Maps