1838 Mitchell Map of Illinois

Mitchell's Map of Illinois Exhibiting its Internal Improvements, Counties, Towns, Roads, etc.

1838 Mitchell Map of Illinois


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Mitchell's Map of Illinois Exhibiting its Internal Improvements, Counties, Towns, Roads, etc.
  1838 (dated)    15.5 x 12.5 in (39.37 x 31.75 cm)     1 : 1700000


An extremely rare 1838 map of Illinois by Samuel Augustus Mitchell. It covers the state of Illinois along with parts of neighboring Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and the Wisconsin Territory. The map depicts a very early county configuration and notes towns, canals, railroads, rivers and a host of other important features.

This particular map is extremely scarce and unusual, as it is the first appearance of Mitchell's Illinois maps and predates Mitchell's partnership with Thomas Cowperthwait. An independent issue meant to accompany and illustrate the book Illinois in 1837, A sketch, all following maps of Illinois by Mitchell followed this template. This is also the earliest appearance of Mitchell's standard c.1850 border.

The map is copyrighted to 1837 with a secondary date of 1838. Engraved by J/ H. Young and ''Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1837 by S. A. Mitchell in the Clerks office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.' Issued as part of the book Illinois in 1837, A sketch, published in Philadelphia in 1837 by S. Augustus Mitchell and Grigg and Elliot.


Samuel Augustus Mitchell (March 20, 1792 - December 20, 1868) began his map publishing career in the early 1830s. Having worked as a school teacher, 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 and Mitchell's General Atlas. By about 1856 most of the Mitchell copyrights were bought by Charles Desilver who continued to publish his 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 copyrights back from Desilver and, from 1860 on, published his own New General Atlas. The younger Mitchell became as prominent as his father and published atlases well into the late 1880s when most of the copyrights were again sold and the Mitchell firm closed its doors for the final time.

James H. Young (fl. c. 1817 - 1866) was an Irish-American draughtsman, engraver, and cartographer active in Philadelphia during the first half of the 19th century. Young engraved for numerous cartographic publishers in the Philadelphia area, including Anthony Finley, Charles Varle, William Kneass, Delleker, and Samuel Augustus Mitchell, among others. His most significant work includes the maps for Finley and later Mitchell's New American Atlas. Mitchell proved to be Young's most significant collaborator. The pair published numerous maps from about 1834 well into the 1860s. In 1840 he registered a patent for an improved system of setting up typography for printing. Unfortunately little has been discovered regarding his personal life.


Mitchell, S. A., Illinois in 1837, 1837.    


Very good. Printed on onion skin paper. Minor wear along original fold lines. Backed with archival tissue for stability. Minor overall toning and light foxing at places.