William Chapin (1802 - 1888) was a prominent New York and Philadelphia based engraver active in the early part of the 19th century. Although we know little of Chapin's early years, he seems to have been an apprenticed from 1817, at the age of 15, to John Vallance in the Philadelphia firm Tanner, Vallance, Kearny & Company. This firm, which is responsible for Tanner's early maps and atlases, had a substantial cartographic corpus. There are records to indicate that Chapin purchased his freedom from Vallance for 125 USD in 1822. In time, he established a significant engraving business under his own name, and with a heavy focus on cartographic material, in both Pennsylvania and New York. Fielding suggests that Chapin's large map of the United States is in fact the first American published map to be engraved steel. Around 1839, Chapin seems to have changed careers when he accepted a position as Commissioner of Public Schools in New York. In this capacity, Chapin developed an interest in working with and teaching blind children. Chapin served as headmaster of several schools for the blind in Ohio and New York. His most significant work with the blind took place at Overbrook School for the Blind, where he developed contemporary techniques for teaching and published the first dictionary for the blind. (Fielding, M. & Carr, J. Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers, p. 61.)