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1870 Gilpin and Ebert Map of Colorado showing Gold Regions (Colton edition)

Map of Colorado Territory, Embracing the Central Gold Region. - Main View

1870 Gilpin and Ebert Map of Colorado showing Gold Regions (Colton edition)


The final state of the landmark Ebert-Gilpin map of Colorado and the only example to show the apocryphal Sahwatch Lake. The first to show the Kansas Pacific Railroad.


Map of Colorado Territory, Embracing the Central Gold Region.
  1870 (dated)     26.5 x 36.5 in (67.31 x 92.71 cm)     1 : 760320


An exceptional discovery, this is the 1870 Colton issue of the famous Ebert-Gilpin plan of Colorado. The Ebert-Gilpin Map, as it is commonly known, was first issued in 1862 and is considered to be the first commercially published map of Colorado Territory, a map of landmark significance. It remained the model upon which all subsequent maps of Colorado were based until about 1871, when it was replaced by new maps issued simultaneously by Cram, Colton, and Thayer. The present map, copyrighted in 1866 and updated to 1870 is the seventh state and the last and final iteration of the Ebert-Gilpin map before the map was replaced by more modern productions.

This map includes several important changes and updates over previous editions. The main reasons for this edition are probably the construction of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, the last like of which terminated in Denver and was completed in 1870, and the supposed 1869 discovery of Sahwatch Lake. This is the first and only edition of this map to identify to the apocryphal Sahwatch Lake, at the base of the Sierra Blanca. Edward Bliss described the lake in a passage in William Blackmore's 1869 book Colorado, Its Resources, Parks and Prospects,
Sahwatch, or San Luis Lake, a body of water some sixty miles in extend, into which flow nineteen streams. This lake has no visible outlet, but is supposed to discharge its surplus water through subterranean channels.
And by Gilpin ,
San Luis Lake, extending south from the point of the foothills, occupies the center of the park for sixty miles forming a bowl without any outlet to its waters. It is encircled by immense saturated savannahs of luxuriant grass. Its water surface expands over the savannah during the season of the melting snows upon the sierras and shrinks when the season of evaporation returns
The lake corresponds to the Closed Basin, where there is no natural outlet for water. During exceptionally wet or warm seasons (when snowmelt can be significant) the valley can flood causing the appearance of a lake. Sahwatch was exploited by Glipin, Blackmore, and others as a 'booster fantasy' to promote settlement in the region. As in many other such land schemes, salt was disguised as sugar. Not only was Sahwatch Lake extremely ephemeral in nature, it was highly alkaline making it unfit for consumption or irrigation.

Map historian Carl Wheat refers to the Ebert-Gilpin as the 'first 'indigenous' [Colorado] map of importance ... a truly imposing map, a credit to all who had a hand in it.' Wheat further notes that the Ebert-Gilpin is vastly superior to the General Land Office maps of Colorado Territory, stating that:
The Ebert-Gilpin map presents Colorado as politically advanced, divided up into seventeen counties besides an 'Indian Reserve' on the Plains. A great many cities and mining camps are located down the length of the Rockies, and the initial surveys of the General Land Office are indicated. Topography is drawn in to an impressive degree, the latest government maps used to great effect. Principal roads are shown, and notable among them is the 'Road to Salt Lake' reconnoitered in 1861 by E.L. Berthoud [the first published appearance of this route on a printed map].
This map was subsequently reissued by Monk in and Colton in 1865. The Colton map in particular is noteworthy for being derived directly from the original 1862 plan. A close study of the two maps suggests that Colton most likely had access to the original printing plate, which he may have simply updated and revised with additional political details and his elaborate trademark acanthus leaf border. The Bancroft Library manuscript collection contains a letter from Gilpin to L. S. Hatch of Denver describing the Colton issue as 'the most excellent, accurate and copious chart, from which all since have been copied'. It has been suggested that Gilpin may have been involved in the Colton production, which explains the similarity between the 1862 plate and the plate from which the present map was printed.

The Colton production moreover features several important updates reflecting Colorado's gold boom. Numerous new towns, predominantly in Gold Rush counties, have been added. These include Valmont, Fort Junction, Burlington, Belle Monte, and Coal Creek in Boulder County; as well as South Boulder, Black Hawk Point, Clear Creek (Empire City), Arapahoe (Fulton, Living Springs), Fremont (Beaver Creek), El Paso (El Paso, Fountain), and Jefferson (Ralston, Hutchinson). In Boulder County, two gold regions are also identified: 'Gold District' and the 'Ward District Gold Hills.' In this specific edition, the routes of the Kansas-Pacific Railway, as surveyed by Ebert and opened in 1869, and the Denver Pacific Line, which opened in 1870, running north from Denver to meet the Pacific Railroad in Cheyanne, have been added.

All editions of this map are extremely rare. There are seven known states. The first is the 1862 Ebert-Gilpin Map. The second, also issued in 1862, appeared as an reduced inset in Pratt and Buell's Map of the Gold Regions in the Vicinity of Central City Gilpin County. The third was published by Monk in 1865. A fourth, the first Colton edition, was published in 1865. The fifth state and second Colton edition was issued in 1866. The sixth state, issued in 1869, was a reduced map bound into Blackmore's Colorado: Its Resources, Parks and Prospects. The present example corresponds to state 7 or the third Colton edition, published in 1870. Each state of this map is important in its own right and offers a supremely valuable chronicle of the early history and development of Colorado. There have been no recorded sales or offerings of State 7 of this map in recent history. It is thus a once in a lifetime opportunity and a must for any serious Colorado collection.


Frederick J. Ebert (January 17, 1822 - May 3, 1888) was a German surveyor and civil engineer active in the American Midwest and in Colorado during the middle to late 19th century. Ebert was born in Brunswick Germany where he studied at the Academy Collegium Corolinum to become a forestry engineer. During the Revolution of 1848 he was an officer under the Duke of Brunswick. Around 1850, as a result of the tribulations that followed the Revolution, he moved to the United States. He lived for one year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where is mastered English, before relocating to St. Louis where he found employment as a civil engineer. In 1860 he moved to Denver where he was employed to survey the Kansas Pacific Railroad as far as the headwaters of the Republican River. Later he took work with W. A .H. Loveland to survey a road from Denver to Central City - a particularly mountainous route. He most significant cartographic achievement was the drafting of the first map of Colorado territory, issued in 1862 with the assistance of Surveyor-General John Pierce at the command of Governor Gilpin. This became the definitive map of Colorado until 1871, when more sophisticated maps were released. Afterwards, in 1863 Ebert took a position as the city engineer of Denver. After two terms in this position Ebert became a business man investing in the stock and dairy business as well as organizing the Exchange bank. Later he became involved in Colorado politics and helped draft the Colorado constitution. He died on May 3 of 1888. Learn More...

William Gilpin (October 4, 1813 – January 20, 1894) was an American explorer, politician, and land speculator. His ardent belief in Manifest Destiny was wedded to odd climatological theories, which led to the creation of a series of maps in his book Mission of the North American People. He was born near Philadelphia to a wealthy family, was privately educated, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1833. He attended West Point for a year but did not graduate. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served in the Seminole Wars and resigned two years later, in 1838. After leaving the army, Gilpin moved to St. Louis where he became a newspaper editor and opened a law practice. In 1843 Gilpin accompanied John C. Frémont along the Santa Fe Trail and eventually to the Oregon Country. He settled in the Willamette Valley, helped organize the provisional government, and aided in drafting a petition to the United States Congress requesting support for the provisional government. He was charged with carrying the petition to Congress, and on his way to Washington he helped foment "Oregon fever" and promoted the territory. In 1846, Gilpin again joined the army to fight in the Mexican-American War. This time he was commissioned as a Major and participated in the campaign to capture New Mexico. After the end of the war, he returned to Missouri and resumed his law practice. In the early 1860s, the border war between Kansas and Missouri prompted Gilpin to join the Republican party. He was later rewarded for this move by President Lincoln, because hew as appointed governor of the newly formed Colorado Territory in May 1861. Gilpin's time as governor, however, was short lived. Under threat of Confederate invasion at the beginning of the Civil War, Gilpin created a military regiment without authorization from the federal government. Since he did not have the money to do so, Gilpin issued $375,000 in drafts on the federal treasury. At first, this move was supported by the people of Colorado, but once it became clear that the treasury was not going to validate the drafts, things quickly turned sour for Gilpin. Petitions began to be circulated calling for his removal. Despite the controversy, the creation of the 1st Colorado Volunteers proved to be fortuitous after the Confederates launched an invasion from the New Mexico Territory in the spring of 1862. The Colorado volunteers played a critical role in routing the Texans at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, which became known as the 'Gettysburg of the West'. Even so, Gilpin was removed in April 1862 by President Lincoln. Gilpin died in Denver in 1894 after being run over by a horse and buggy. 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...


Very good. Comes with original binder, from which it has been detached. Map exhibits minor verso reinforcement here and there along original fold lines where the map exhibits some wear. All an all a very fine example.


Wheat, Carl Irving, Mapping the Transmississippi West, 1540-1861 (5 vols), #1040 and #1118. OCLC: 17251276.