This item has been sold, but you can enter your email address to be notified if another example becomes available, or purchase a digital scan.

1884 Sargent Forestry Map of North American Forests

Map Showing the Natural Divisions of the North American Forests. Exclusive of Mexico.

1884 Sargent Forestry Map of North American Forests


Important Charles Sargent arboreal map of North American forests.



Map Showing the Natural Divisions of the North American Forests. Exclusive of Mexico.
  1884 (undated)    24 x 18.5 in (60.96 x 46.99 cm)     1 : 15300000


This is an 1884 Charles Sprague Sargent arboreal thematic map of North America. The map depicts the continent of North America from the Arctic Ocean, Alaska, and Canada south to Mexico and Central America, as well as the extreme northern reaches of South America and from the Pacific to the Atlantic. It was issued with a portfolio entitled Sixteen Maps Accompanying Report on Forest Trees of North America, which accompanied an 1884 Department of the Interior Report on Forests of North America (Exclusive of Mexico), which was itself part of the United States Census of 1880.

As the title states, the mission of the map is to illustrate the forests of North America. Per the map, a division exists between Atlantic and Pacific forests, with the Atlantic forests colored different shades of blue and the Pacific forests colored different shades of green. The Rocky Mountains function as the dividing line between Atlantic and Pacific, although there appears to be some overlap between the two in northern Canada and Alaska. More variation exists in the Atlantic portion, from semi-tropical forest in southern Florida to northern and pine forests in the northern United States and Canada. There is only one division in the Pacific forests: coastal and interior.

Although created to illustrate the distribution of North American forests, several other aspects of the geography of North America are also depicted. Myriad rivers are labeled, as well as all the contemporary states, which at the time included the Indian Territory and Dakota as well as the Alaska Territory. State capitols and other major cities are labeled. Mountain ranges are depicted in both North and Central America. An inset map located at the lower left corner depicts the Aleutian Islands and Kamchatka.

This map was prepared under the direction of Charles Sprague Sargent, drafted by Harry King, and compiled under the direction of Henry Gannett. It is number two of the portfolio titled Sixteen Maps Accompanying Report on Forest Trees of North America, which accompanied the 1884 Department of the Interior Report on Forests of North America (Exclusive of Mexico), and was published by Julius Bien of New York.


Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927) was an American botanist who was the first director of Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, a post which he held for 54 years. Sargent graduated from Harvard College in 1862 with a degree in Biology and immediately joined the United States Army and served in Louisiana during the Civil War. Following his time in the army, Sargent spent three years touring the botanical gardens of Europe. Upon his return, he took it upon himself to care for the grounds of his family estate, Holm Lea in Brookline, Massachusetts. In 1872, Sargent was appointed as a professor of horticulture at the newly formed Bussey Institution and in 1873 was named Director of the Arnold Arboretum. The Arboretum slowing began to take shape in the years following his appointment, and, beginning in 1878, Sargent began working with the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead on a path and roadway system. In 1880, Sargent's expertise was called upon by the Department of Forestry to conduct a census of the trees of the United States by region, which was published in 1884 as Report on the Forests of North America (exclusive of Mexico). Sargent was influential in the creation of both national forests and national parks over the course of his career. It is said that Sargent spent all his waking hours either working in the administration building that he had raised the funds to have built, or wandering the grounds of the Arboretum. His expertise was renowned, even his own staff considered him to be a 'one-man institution'. After Sargent's death in 1927, Massachusetts Governor Alvan T. Fuller planted a white spruce on the grounds of the Massachusetts State House in his memory, stating, 'Professor Sargent knew more about trees than any other living person. It would be hard to find anyone who did more to protect trees from the vandalism of those who do not appreciate the contribution that they make to the beauty and wealth of our nation.'

Henry Gannett (1846 – 1914) was an American geographer who is described as the 'Father of Government Mapmaking'. Gannet was among those lobbying to centralize all government mapmaking under one agency. Before the creation of the United States Geological Survey, individual mapmakers and agencies had to compete for money from Congress to fund projects. His first job with the USGS was geographer of the 1880 United States Census. The completion of the census in 1882 is considered the start of true topographical work in the United States and the birth of the quadrangle. Gannet served as chief geographer on two subsequent censuses, 1890 and 1900, and was one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society.

Julius (Julien) Bien (September 27, 1826 - December 21, 1909) was a German-Jewish lithographer and engraver based in New York City. Bien was born in Naumburg, Germany. He was educated at the Academy of Fine Arts, Cassell and at Städel's Institute, Frankfurt-am-Main. Following the suppression of the anti-autocratic German Revolutions of 1848, Bien, who participated in the pan-German movement, found himself out of favor in his home country and joined the mass German immigration to the United States. Bien can be found in New York as early as 1849. He established the New York Lithographing, Engraving & Printing Company in New York that focused on the emergent chromo-lithograph process - a method of printing color using lithographic plates. His work drew the attention of the U.S. Government Printing Office which contracted him to produce countless government maps and surveys, including the Pacific Railroad Surveys, the census, numerous coast surveys, and various maps relating to the American Civil War. Bien also issued several atlases both privately and in conjunction with a relation, Joseph Bien. At the height of his career Bien was elected president of the American Lithographers Association. After his death in 1909, Bien's firm was taken over by his son who promptly ran it to insolence. The firm was sold to Sheldon Franklin, who, as part of the deal, readied the right to printer under the Julius Bien imprint. In addition to his work as a printer, Bien was active in the New York German Jewish community. He was director of the New York Hebrew Technical Institute, the New York Hebrew Orphan Asylum, and president of the B'nai B'rith Order.


Sargent, C. S., Sixteen Maps Accompanying Report on Forest Trees of North America (New York: Bien) 1884.    


Very good. Light soiling. Even overall toning. Blank on verso.


Rumsey 2332.003. OCLC 367643581.
Looking for a high-resolution scan of this?