A New Map of Virginia with its Canals, Roads & Distances from place to place, along the Stage & Steam Boat Routes.
1854 (dated 1850) 12 x 15 in (30.48 x 38.1 cm)
This is a fine example of S. A. Mitchell's 1854 map of Virginia. This map predates the 1862 separation of Virginia and West Virginia, and so contains both modern states in full as well as parts of adjacent Kentucky, Ohio, Maryland, and North Carolina. The Chesapeake Bay in particular, in rendered in full while a profile in the upper right details the elevations of the important Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Operated until 1924, the Canal, which paralleled the Potomac connected the Atlantic to the Ohio River, and was a vital artery for trade between the populous Atlantic coast and the rapidly developing American interior. A list in the map's lowers left quadrant also shows various steamboat routes, along with mileage. The whole is engraved and colored in Mitchell's distinctive style with green border work and vivid pastels. Political and topographical features are noted and color coded with elevation rendered by hachure.
This map was prepared by S. A. Mitchell for publication by the Philadelphia firm of Thomas Cowperthwait & Co. as plate no. 17 in the 1854 edition of Mitchell's New General Atlas. Dated and copyrighted, 'Entered according to act of Congress in the year 1850 by Thomas Cowperthwait & Co. in the Clerk's office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.'
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. By about 1856 most of the Mitchell plates and copyrights were acquired by Charles Desilver who continued to publish the 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 plates back from Desilver and introduced his own floral motif border. From 1860 on, he published his own editions of the New General Atlas. The younger Mitchell became as prominent as his father, publishing maps and atlases until 1887, when most of the copyrights were again sold and the Mitchell firm closed its doors for the final time.
Mitchell, S. A., A New Universal Atlas Containing Maps of the various Empires, Kingdoms, States and Republics Of The World, (Thomas Cowperthwait & Co., Philadelphia) 1854.
Very good condition. Blank on verso. Minor discoloration at border, to center, see image.
Rumsey 0537.018 (1846 edition). Phillips (Atlases) 814.