1857 Colton Map of Nebraska and Kansas Territories at Their Fullest Extent

Nebraska and Kanzas. - Main View

1857 Colton Map of Nebraska and Kansas Territories at Their Fullest Extent


An early, important map of the Kansas and Nebraska Territories.


Nebraska and Kanzas.
  1857 (dated)     11.75 x 14.75 in (29.845 x 37.465 cm)     1 : 4800000


A beautiful example of Colton's 1857 map of Nebraska and Kansas, which appeared in the first edition of his General Atlas. This is among the rarest and most desirable Colton atlas maps. Aside from the territories named in the title, it includes portions of the future states of Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
A Closer Look
Based on an earlier wall map produced by Colton and David Griffing Johnson, this map details the regions between the Great Salt Lake and Iowa, and between the Canadian Border and New Mexico. It covers territorial Kansas and Nebraska as well as parts of adjacent Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, and Utah. This massive and ephemeral Nebraska Territory covered much of what is today Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota (both it and the Kansas Territory were reduced in 1861 to create the Colorado Territory). Nearby Minnesota is also exceptionally large, embracing all the territory between Wisconsin and the Missouri River.

When this map was printed, Nebraska and Kansas had only recently been opened for settlement. Both regions were sparsely inhabited by the diverse yet powerful Indian nations of Comanches, Kioways, Arapahoes, Cheyennes, Sioux, Dacotahs, Poncas, Pawnees, Omahas, Missouris, Delawares, Shawnee, Osages, Crow, Black, and others - whose territorial claims Colton notes. Colton also records three of the routes proposed for the Pacific Railroad, the Stevens route far to the north, the Beswith route running through the center of the map, and the Gunnison Route passing through Kansas. This map further identifies various forts, rivers, mountain passes, fords, and an assortment of additional topographical detail.
Publication History and Census
Although the copyright is 1855, this was the 3rd state of the map published in 1857, distinguished by some corrections, the 'No. 52' at bottom-right, and the simple border. A more ornate and typical Colton border is present on the previous two states (both numbered 50). The subsequent printing of Colton's General Atlas (1858) employed a significantly reworked map of the territories (copyright 1857), shifting focus to their eastern portions, switching their order in the title, adopting the now standard spelling of Kansas, and reverting to 'No. 50.' The OCLC notes 13 institutions holding this map, but the catalog description ('ornate border') suggests that at least some of these are from the 1858 General Atlas.


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. More by this mapmaker...


Colton, G.W. and C.B., Colton's General Atlas, (New York: Colton) 1857.    


Very good. Some offsetting and minor imperfections in margins.


Rumsey 0149.000 (2nd State). OCLC 61829520.