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1854 Mitchell Map of California, Oregon, Washington, Utah and New Mexico

A New Map of the State of California, The Territories of Oregon, Washington, Utah and New Mexico. - Main View

1854 Mitchell Map of California, Oregon, Washington, Utah and New Mexico



A New Map of the State of California, The Territories of Oregon, Washington, Utah and New Mexico.
  1850 (dated)     16 x 13 in (40.64 x 33.02 cm)     1 : 6600000


This is a scarce example of S. A. Mitchell and J. H. Young's important 1854 map of California and the western territories of Washington, Oregon, Utah, and New Mexico. Based upon Mitchell's seminal pocket map of 1846, this map covers from Vancouver Island to the Gulf of California and from the Pacific shore to Pikes Peak and the Yellowstone River. This vast territory incudes the modern day states of California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico, as well as adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. The whole is engraved and colored in Mitchell's distinctive style with green border work and vivid pastels. Political and topographical features are noted and color coded with elevation rendered by hachure.

This map was issued in the final years of the California Gold Rush and just prior to the construction of the various transcontinental railroads. Though California, following the Gold Rush population explosion, was admitted as a free state to the Union in 1850, the surrounding territories remained largely dominated by various American Indian nations, many of which are noted. Also noted are the various exploratory, emigrant, and military routes through the region, including the Spanish Trail from Los Angeles to Santa Fe, the Oregon Route, Lewis and Clarke's Route, Lt. Col. Cooke's Wagon Road, Kearney's Route along the Rio Gila. Though the Gadsden Purchase occurred in the same year this map was published, it is not included here, thus is the city of Tucson (Tueson) is set firmly within Mexican territory. However, several pre-Gadsden alternatives to the U.S. Mexico border, as proposed by Bartlett and Graham, are noted.

This map was prepared by S. A. Mitchell for publication by the Philadelphia firm of Thomas Cowperthwait and Co. as plate no. 37 in the 1854 edition of Mitchell's New General Atlas. Dated and copyrighted, 'Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1850 by Thomas Cowperthwait and Co. in the Clerk's office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.'


Samuel Augustus Mitchell (March 20, 1792 - December 20, 1868) began his map publishing career in the early 1830s. Mitchell was born in Bristol, Connecticut. He relocated to Philadelphia in 1821. Having worked as a school teacher and a geographical writer, Mitchell was frustrated with the low quality and inaccuracy of school texts of the period. His first maps were an attempt to rectify this problem. In the next 20 years Mitchell would become the most prominent American map publisher of the mid-19th century. Mitchell worked with prominent engravers J. H. Young, H. S. Tanner, and H. N. Burroughs before attaining the full copyright on his maps in 1847. In 1849 Mitchell either partnered with or sold his plates to Thomas, Cowperthwait and Company who continued to publish the Mitchell's Universal Atlas. By about 1856 most of the Mitchell plates and copyrights were acquired by Charles Desilver who continued to publish the maps, many with modified borders and color schemes, until Mitchell's son, Samuel Augustus Mitchell Junior, entered the picture. In 1859, S.A. Mitchell Jr. purchased most of the plates back from Desilver and introduced his own floral motif border. From 1860 on, he published his own editions of the New General Atlas. The younger Mitchell became as prominent as his father, publishing maps and atlases until 1887, when most of the copyrights were again sold and the Mitchell firm closed its doors for the final time. More by this mapmaker...


Mitchell, S. A., A New Universal Atlas Containing Maps of the various Empires, Kingdoms, States and Republics Of The World, (Thomas Cowperthwait & Co., Philadelphia) 1854.    


Very good. Overall age toning. Minor spotting at places.


Rumsey 0558.001. Wheat, Carl Irving, Mapping the Transmississippi West, 1540-1861, no. 831. Phillips (Atlases) 814.