Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2016 Issue

Maps from New York to the World and Beyond from Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps

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Maps from New York and Beyond.

Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps has issued their Catalogue Five New York and Beyond. There are several maps of New York City, ranging from colonial times to the 19th century, but the "beyond" part is something of an understatement. There are maps of whole continents, the other side of the globe, the whole world, even other worlds. New York is a starting point, not a finish line. These are all important maps and often extremely rare. This is a catalogue for those who collect maps at the highest level. Here are a few samples.

 

We begin with a large archive of maps showing New York City as its growth was truly exploding. Item 3 is a collection of 67 real estate maps of lower Manhattan from the 1830's. This was a period of enormous growth in the city as a result of the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. The canal cut the cost of shipping goods from the west, today's midwest, by close to 90%. The result was that New York quickly became the center of trade for America, with great quantities of goods coming in and going out. The city was on a major growth path to serve its new-found role. The archive contains many detailed maps of each section of lower Manhattan. Some display lots being parceled out for townhomes to handle the growing population. Others show the names of residents. Many maps cover New York's financial district. There are maps that display the city both before and after the Great Fire of New York in 1835. Priced at $95,000.

 

From the New York island we go to the Gulf Stream waters. The Spanish knew about it centuries earlier, but in their colonial days they were tight-lipped about everything they knew, trying to maintain a competitive advantage. However, others gradually became aware that there was a flow up the east coast of North America that turned out to sea around Cape Hatteras. Benjamin Franklin became aware of the stream and its potential to cut shipping times, both to the east by flowing with it, and to the west by avoiding it. It was Franklin who gave the current the name "Gulf Stream." He commissioned a map from Timothy Folger, who was a Nantucket sea captain along with being his cousin. Originally, Franklin gave the chart to the British post office, to speed mail deliveries. The post office had it engraved on an old chart of the Atlantic by Mount & Page, rather than generating a new one. It was little used, but after Franklin had done more investigations, and noticed the Gulf Stream was warmer than surrounding waters, he had the chart reprinted by Le Rouge while he was serving in Paris. Item 15 is a copy of that chart, Remarques Sur La Navigation de Terre-Neuve a New York... published in 1782. $24,500.

 

In a time when many wonder whether the post office is relevant for communications today, it can be hard to recall that it was once essential for America's ability to exist as a united nation. It was the only means of communication between the states, whose distances were enormous in the days of few good travel options. Item 8 is A Map of the United States. Exhibiting Post Roads & Distances By Abraham Bradley Jun...1796 (this is an 1800 issue). Bradley was one of the earliest experts in postal matters in the U.S. Hired in 1792, he became First Assistant Postmaster General in 1800, and served until Andrew Jackson's spoils purge in 1829. By that time, he was supervising 8,000 post offices and 110,000 miles of post roads. The system was not quite so extensive in 1800, when the nation was only in its second decade of existence. This map shows the 450 post offices existing at the time along with all the post roads. It also shows route schedules and delivery times for the mail. $175,000.

 

Item 5 is a unique sketch of the Mississippi River from Natchez to New Orleans. It was prepared in 1803 from an original created by Captain McGrudar, generated for Abraham Ellery on behalf of Alexander Hamilton. President Jefferson had been engaged in talks to purchase territory from the French, but that land consisted solely of New Orleans and a small amount of land on each side of the Mississippi. He offered $6 million. Jefferson was shocked when the French came back and offered the whole of the Louisiana Territory for $15 million. Jefferson was concerned whether he had a constitutional right to make such a purchase, but ultimately decided it was an implied power. Hamilton, a Federalist and rival to Jefferson, his party out of power, was also interested in a purchase. It was this interest, and any considerations he may have had for an alternate plan, that led him to have Ellery procure a map of the Mississippi on his behalf. Ellery also promised to provide Hamilton with other charts, but it appears that the rest of these were never generated. Hamilton was not interested in the vast territory that constituted the remainder of Louisiana. He was concerned with controlling the mouth of the Mississippi, which would assure the United States access to sea trade from the port without the risk of future interference by the French. $195,000.

 

Now for the map that is out of this world – item 20 is a lunar landing map from July 20, 1969. It is signed by astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to step on the moon. It displays a section of the moon, pockmarked with numerous craters. Aldrin has placed an "X" on the spot where the Apollo XI lunar module made its landing. $9,500.

 

Barry Lawrence Ruderman Rare Maps may be reached at 858-551-8500 or orders@raremaps.com. Their website is www.raremaps.com.

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