Adolphe Hippolyte Dufour's 1864 Map of America

January 25, 2022

Adolphe Hippolyte Dufour's 1864 Map of America

During the 19th century, maps became increasingly more popular. Maps were not only land documents, but beautiful pieces of art and history to be put on display. Original maps have become more scarce and hard to come by, and those that have survived are collectible for many different reasons.

One example of a highly collectible original map is this beautiful and incredibly detailed map from 1864 of North America entitled Amerique du Nord produced by Adolphe Hippolyte Dufour. This map shows elaborately hand-colored country boards with vibrant hand-colored lines representing state borders.There are also extremely detailed labels of cities and rivers throughout the map. The work was dissected into four separate sections and then laid carefully and neatly onto two sheets of linen to bring the whole map together. There are two stamps present for the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which existed until the 1920s. This map also appeared in Andriveau-Goujon’s Atlas Choix.

This map is highly collectible for its terrific display of early Western Territorial names and boundaries, and for its impressive details. This map covers an extensive amount of land in the North American continent. The land depicted on this map stretches as far North as the Polar Ice Cap and as far South as the northern edge of South America. Included in this map are several United States territories depictions including an unusual view of the Transmississippi West, Nebraska Territory, and the Territory of Shoshone. Some other points of interest are Kansas, which extends to the Rocky Mountains, Washington, and Oregon, New Mexico depicted above Arizona (the Baylor line), and Nevada’s lower tip, including Clark County where Las Vegas is, shown in Arizona.

Another interesting detail shown in this map is Nevada’s eastern border that is nearly at the western edge of Salt Lake. Although the border is very odd, it was an early effort to reduce the Mormon influence throughout this area.

The inset map to the lower left shows the edge of present day Alaska. The land is labeled on this map as “Russian America,” which relates to the Russian colonial possessions in North America that lasted from 1733 to 1867.

Adolphe Hippolyte Dufour, who produced this map, was born in 1795 and died in 1865. He was a French-based map and atlas publisher working primarily in Paris. Dufour was well known for his famous elephant folio entitled Atlas Universel physique, historique et politique geographie ancienne et moderne. Dufour was also a student of Emile Lapie, another famous French cartographer, and worked with numerous other cartographers. This helped him publish a wide array of maps and atlases. Alexandre Vuillemin, a prominent late 19th century French cartographer and editor, was Dufor’s student and successor.

Maps such as this example show the impressive attention to detail paid by the cartographers, as well as their artistic quality in their work. Maps are beautiful collectors' items and make a great addition to any home wall or office space.






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