1878 Colton Missionary Map of the World on cloth (HUGE)

Missionary map of the world showing the central stations of all Protestant missionary societies.

1878 Colton Missionary Map of the World on cloth (HUGE)


Exceptionally large map of the world on waxed cloth illustrating Protestant Missions c. 1878.


Missionary map of the world showing the central stations of all Protestant missionary societies.
  1878 (undated)    80 x 145 in (203.2 x 368.3 cm)     1 : 11100000


One of the largest and most unusual maps we have dealt with, this is an enormous 1878 double hemisphere map of the world illustrating missionary activity. Published by G. W. and C. B. Colton, this map is printed on waxed linen cloth, several sheets of which have been stitched together to form a whole. The focus is Protestant missionary efforts throughout the world. A distinction is made between American missionary efforts, which are underlined in black, and foreign missionary efforts, which are underlined in red.

The description of this map from the Missionary Herald is as follows:
Mr. J. H. Colton, map publisher, New York, is preparing a large map of the world, which may be superior, in some important particulars, to any thing of the kind yet published. It is on the general plan o Campbell's map, which many of the readers of the Herald have seen, presenting to the eye, by its coloring, a picture of the moral and religious condition of the world, with all the principal stations of the Protestant Missionary societies of this country and Great Britain. With these advantages, it will combine geographical accuracy and completeness in a high degree.
The Herald goes on to describe the construction of this magnificent map,
Each hemisphere will be six feet in diameter, and the map will be printed on cloth, made expressly for the purpose, so as to be durable and easily folded in a portable form for conveyance form place to place.
And ultimately, its intended purpose,
The map is now in the hands of the engravers, and will e ready for delivery by the first of January. For monthly concerts, Sabbath schools, lectures on missions, and even for the instruction of common schools in geography, it will be found and important auxiliary. The whole cost of the who hemispheres, separately or together, will be about ten dollars.
The description above refers to the first issue of this map, by J. H. Colton in 1845 based upon the teachings of the Rev. J. M. Campbell. The present example is the 1878 edition, issued by Colton's sons, George Woolworth and Charles B. Colton. We are aware of another edition issued in 1892 that is approximately half the size of the current offering. There was also an early 20th century edition, much reduced, issued for the Seventh Day Adventists by August R. Ohman and Company, which took over the Colton firm in 1898.

The only other surviving example we are aware of this map, in this edition, is housed at the Library of Congress. We are aware of one example of a much reduced, about 50% smaller, variant in private hands.


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. Colton 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.


Very good. Even overall toning. Some creasing and wear. Printed on waxed linen cloth. Some minor stains.


Library of Congress G3201.E4 1878 .C6 Index.