William Chapin (1802 - 1888) was a prominent New York and Philadelphia based engraver active in the early part of the 19th century. Though we know little of Chapin's early years he seems to have been an apprenticed at the age of 15 to John Vallance in the Philadelphia firm Tanner, Vallance, Kearny & CO. from 1817. This firm, which is responsible for Tanner's early 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 for himself in Pennsylvania and New York with heavy focus on cartographic material. Fielding suggests that Chapin's large map of the United States is in fact the first published map to be engraved steel in the United States. 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 interested in working with and teaching blind children. Chapin began working 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.)