1856 J. H. Colton and J. Calvin Smith Map of Long Island, New York

Map of Long Island, with the Environs of New-York and the Southern Part of Connecticut, compiled from Various Surveys and Documents. - Main View

1856 J. H. Colton and J. Calvin Smith Map of Long Island, New York


Best early map of Long Island.


Map of Long Island, with the Environs of New-York and the Southern Part of Connecticut, compiled from Various Surveys and Documents.
  1856 (dated)     34 x 57.25 in (86.36 x 145.415 cm)     1 : 158000


A fine example of John Calvin Smith and J. H. Colton's 1856 map of Long Island. This is the largest, most significant, and most beautiful map of Long Island to be issued in the 19th century. It is also very likely the first map published by American cartographic titan, J. H. Colton.
A Closer Look
Embracing the entirety of Long Island, the map also includes Long Island Sound, New York City, and parts of the New Jersey and Connecticut coastline. Inset maps detail Brooklyn, Newark, New Haven, New Brighton, and Tompkinsville. The title describes this map as 'compiled from various surveys and documents,' by which, Smith is referring to unpublished maps prepared by the United States Coast Survey. Although in 1836, the U.S.C.S. had not yet published any significant material on the region, they had been active in the New York City / Long Island area since their 1807 founding. Whatever Smith's sources, the quality and accuracy of his map surpasses all previous mappings of Long Island and, for the first time, presents the island from a sophisticated cartographic perspective. As such, it served as the template for most subsequent maps of Long Island, including the William Mather Geological Map of Long Island, the 1873 Beers Map of Long Island, and most likely even the 1890 G. W. and C. B. Colton map of Long Island. It would also, in some later variant, have no doubt been used in the planning the construction of the Long Island Railroad following the American Civil War (1861 - 1865).
The First Map of the J. H. Colton Company
Although the present example is a later 1856 edition, in its first 1836 edition, this was Colton's first published map. 1836 was an important year for both Colton and Stiles for it was then that J. H. Colton, who had previously worked as the 'Company' in 'Stiles and Company' branched out to found J. H. Colton Company. This map, along with the Topographical Map of the City and County of New-York, constitute the first publications under Colton's imprint. Colton, a savvy businessman, went on to become one of America's largest and most influential map publishers.
Publication History and Census
The map was drawn by John Calvin Smith, engraved by Samuel Stiles, and first published in 1836 by J. H. Colton. There are known revised editions issued in 1844, 1847, 1854, 1855, and as here 1856. In various editions, the map appears in perhaps 7 institutions. We do not however, see any other examples of the 1856 issue - likely the last.


John Calvin Smith (1809 – June 11, 1890) was an American surveyor and geographer active in New York during the middle part of the 19th century. He was a charter member of the American Geographical and Statistical Society (American Geographical Society). He worked with other important New York cartographers including John Disturnell, George Sherman, and Samuel Stiles, with whom he often published under the Stiles, Sherman & Smith imprint. Stiles may have introduced Smith to J. H. Colton, who acquired many of his map plates in 1853. Most of Smith's maps focus on New York counties, but he also issued maps of the United States, Illinois, Texas, and the California gold fields. Despite being an important and prolific cartographer, much of his personal life and history are shrouded in mystery. More by this mapmaker...

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...

Samuel Stiles (July 15, 1796 - April 3, 1861) was a New York based engraver of maps and bank notes active in the middle part of the 19th century. Stiles was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, and there served his apprenticeship as a line-engraver under self-taught master Abner Reed. In 1821, following his apprenticeship, Stiles relocated to Hartford, Connecticut, with is former master, Abner Reed, to form the firm of Reed and Stiles. Reed and Stiles worked in portrait, historical, landscape, and map engraving on wood and copper. Another former Reed apprentice, Pelton, joined the firm in 1822, changing the name of the firm to Reed, Stiles, and Pelton. Around this time, he also joined the Connecticut State Militia where he was commissioned as a corporal in the same Calvary regiment as his brother Asabel Chapin Stiles. In 1824, he relocated to Utica, New York, where worked with Vistus Balch, also a former Reed apprentice. Stiles and Balch moved to New York together in 1828 to found Balch and Stiles, banknote engravers. In 1833, Samuel Stiles partnered with Joseph Hutchins Colton, then a young man, to found Stiles and Company – Colton being the 'company.' This partnership lasted until 1836 when he and Colton published their great plan of New York City, known as the 'Colton Map.' Colton went his own way and became a major American map publisher. Stiles moved a few blocks away and partnered with George E. Sherman and Colin Smith to found Stiles, Sherman and Smith. The partnership dissolved in 1840 and Stiles took up again with J. H. Colton, who was already becoming prominent. In 1841, he joined the firm of Danforth, Ball, and Company, Bank Note Engravers. This firm eventually merged into the American Bank Note Company. In 1859 Stiles became a founding member of the National Banknote Company, which incorporated as the American Banknote Company. He was the treasurer of this successful firm until his death in 1861. On a side note, Stiles married the daughter of Abner Reed, Charlotte Sophia Reed, in 1825. Their son, Henry Reed Stiles attained fame of his own as historian and genealogist. Learn More...


Very good. Dissected and laid down on linen. Original linen stable, but exhibits wear along some folds. Folds into original binder.


OCLC 137349725. New York Public Library, Map Division, b15025252.