1770 / 1853 Colton / Ratzen / Ratzer Plan of New York City

NewYorkRatzen-colton-1853
$9,500.00
Plan of the city of New York in North America : surveyed in the years 1766 and 1767.
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1770 / 1853 Colton / Ratzen / Ratzer Plan of New York City

NewYorkRatzen-colton-1853

Rare Colton edition of an iconic New York City map.

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Title


Plan of the city of New York in North America : surveyed in the years 1766 and 1767.
  1853 (dated)    41 x 36 in (104.14 x 91.44 cm)     1 : 9800

Description


This is the rare 1853 Joseph Hutchins Colton edition of the 1770 Bernard Ratzer / Ratzen plan of New York City. The map covers from Blackwell's Island to Red Hook, Brooklyn, and from Hoboken to Bushwick Inlet, covering in the process most of Southern Manhattan, Brooklyn, and parts of Queens and New Jersey. The Ratzen plan is considered one of the finest maps of New York City ever published and, at the time of its publication, the most accurate and detailed map of the region.
A note on the map suggests that Colton copied this map from an original in the possession of James Carson Brevoort (1818-1887), a New York art collectors. Only four surviving copies of the original 1770 issue remain, but the plan was reissued by Faden and Jefferys in 1776, on the cusp of the American Revolutionary War. Today this Colton reissue is much rarer, although not nearly as valuable, than the 1776 Faden / Jeffreys issue.

Issued by J. H. Colton. Lithographed and printed by Schedler and Liebler, 129 William Street, New York.

CartographerS


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 it was thus that, 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. 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 10000 copies a large format map of that country. Though 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 received as much as 100,000 USD in compensation. However, 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 event which led Colton into the arms of Alvin Jewett Johnson and Ross C. Browning. The 1859 edition of Colton's 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 the Colton 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 pocket maps and guides. The last known publications of the Colton firm dated to 1897 and include a map and a view, both issued in association with the Merchant's Association of New York. In 1898 the Colton firm merged with the Ohman Firm and continued to published as Colton, Ohman & Co. until 1901.


Bernard Ratzer (fl. 1756 - 1777) was an extremely important British engineer, cartographer, and surveyor active in the mid to late 18th century. Ratzer was recruited by the British Army and commissioned as a Liutennet in His Majesties 60th Royal American Regiment. As an "experienced surveyor and fine draughtsman" (Cumming) Ratzer was assigned to survey the coasts of America during the French and Indian war and just prior to the American Revolutionary War. Ratzer is known to have worked with Faden, Jefferys, Kitchen, Holland and Sauthier, among other important 18th century cartographic figures. Most of Ratzer's work is confined to the eastern coast of the United States, specifically New York, New Jersey and the Carolinas. Ratzer is best known for his stunning large format map of New York City, which is generally considered to be one of the most beautiful city plans ever produced. Ratzer's name is often confused as "Ratzen" due to Thomas Kitchen's misspelling of his name on the title of the New York Plan.

Condition


Very good. Slight toning. Professionally restored.

References


Cohen, Paul E. and Augustyn, Robert T., Manhattan in Maps: 1527-1995, pages 73-77. OCLC 923004879.