Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2011 Issue

Rare Maps from High Ridge Books

Highridge63

Rare maps from High Ridge Books.

High Ridge Books has published their Catalogue 63. Rare Maps from the 17th to 20th Centuries Featuring Wall Maps, Pocket Maps, Sea Charts and Other Unusual Cartographic Items. This is an extensive selection primarily of maps, almost 300 in all. They range from older European maps and early understandings of the New World, to the development of America, and conclude at the dawn of the era where road maps for automobiles would replace railroad and road maps meant for travelers in horse-drawn carriages. Along the way, we find many local maps - counties and towns. Those looking for maps of particular local interest should see this catalogue as your community might be included. Many of these maps were produced by land developers or the railroads, trying to sell Americans on the wonders of moving to some far-off undeveloped plot of land, whose beautiful description probably had little in common with the reality of living there. Additionally, you will some items not quite maps but related, such as transportation schedules and routes for railroads and boats. Here are a few samples of items to be found in this catalogue of route guides to the world waiting outside your door.

Item 9 is a map that presents an early look at the Americas: America with Those Known Parts in That Unknowne World... It is the 1676 fourth state of a map originally published by British mapmaker John Speed in 1626, as part of his atlas A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World. That was the first world atlas produced by an Englishman (the Dutch had previously dominated the field), and while Speed died shortly after its initial publication, his work was so well respected that it was still being printed half a century later. This map includes color images of American natives along its sides and small plans of cities at the top. The first issue was the first map in an atlas to depict California as an island, a misconception carried through to this state. Most of the American Northwest is simply left off, it being an area still virtually unknown in the western world at the time. Priced at $9,500.

Item 32 is an early local map, but not a printed one. It is a circa 1795 manuscript map of four proposed towns in Herkimer County, upstate New York. Herkimer County had been created just a few years earlier, much of it coming from land seized from the Iroquois Indians as payback for their supporting the British during the Revolution. Located north and west of Albany, it was very rural, and still a dangerous frontier area at the time. The primary town was German Flatts, already officially a town at the time, but with three new towns to be carved from it – Litchfield, Warren, and Frankfort. All four still exist today, with German Flatts still a modest size community while the other three towns remain very small in terms of population, even though over two centuries have passed since they were created. $400.

Item 37 is an extremely rare second edition of the first official map of New Hampshire: Philip Carrigain's New Hampshire by Recent Survey Made Under Supreme Authority and Published. This is an 1818 second edition of the map first published in 1816. It is so rare that some of the bibliographies and sources on maps have referred to the first as an “only” edition, or noted that Carrigain privately sold copies of a second edition but that no copies are known. While the main map is of New Hampshire, there are insets of other New England states and maritime provinces, along with southern and central U.S. States. $8,500.

Item 39 provides a snapshot of America at a specific moment – 1819. Maps could only be of a moment at that time as America was rapidly changing. Indiana, Illinois, and Mississippi are shown as states, as each had been admitted to the Union in the previous three years. However, Alabama is a territory, and few maps would so label it as it only retained territorial status for three years before becoming a state. This map is Samuel Lewis' Travellers Guide to the United States, a large wall map. It is called a “travellers guide” as it displayed various roads. Traveling would not have been easy as this predates the explosion of railroads, meaning these would be rough carriage roads. This map incorporated findings in the farther northwest regions from Lewis and Clark's expedition, though detail is limited, and what it refers to as “North West Territory” lies in today's Wisconsin. $9,500.

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