1854 "New Map of the Portion of North America" Hand-Colored Wall Map by Jacob Monk, Featuring the California Gold Region

New Map of that Portion of North America, exhibiting the United States and Territories, The Canadas, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Mexico, also Central America, and the West India Islands. Compiled from the most recent surveys and authentic sources. Published by Jacob Monk, Baltimore, MD, 1854. Printed by A. Hoen & Company, Baltimore.

This is an attractive 19th century wall map of North America. Published in 1854 by Jacob Monk, this map details the area from the southern border of Canada to Central America, the West Indies, and northwest South America, with a focus on the United States. The map is a wonderful snapshot of the United States during a time of significant growth, exploration, and development.

Published after the Mexican-American War and during the height of the California Gold Rush, this map is especially interesting west of the Mississippi River. California is divided as “Upper California” and “Lower California”. The California Gold Region, located between the Sierra Nevada’s and the Coastal Ranges is colored in yellow. Despite the gold-tinted enthusiasm for the mineral-rich region, much of the territory mapped is still cartographically inaccurate, with Auburn shown well north of Sacramento City and lying between Sacramento and the Yuba City area. The Great Basin area is also incorrect, and still roughly follows the Fremont model. 

The middle of the country is occupied by the newly organized “Kanzas Territory” and “Territory of Nebraska”, which stretches from the Missouri River to the Continental Divide. The map also features very large, early configurations of Washington, Oregon, Utah, and New Mexico territories. Minnesota includes the Dakotas, which are not yet named. Monk also identifies and names numerous Native American tribes throughout the map. 

This edition also depicts the proposed Gadsden Purchase in present-day southern Arizona. The Gadsen Purchase was the last substantial territorial acquisition in the contiguous United States. The U.S. sought the land (present day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico) as a better route for the construction of the southern transcontinental railway line. The treaty was signed on December 30, 1853, ratified by the U.S. Senate on April 25, 1854, and made final by Mexico’s General Congress on June 8, 1854.

The map shows several wagon routes and proposed railroads, as well as springs, mountain passes, forests, swamps, and deserts. Numerous sailing ships illustrate the shipping lanes along both the east and west coasts. At right, a “Table of Distances” lays out both routes by water and inland routes. A large inset map in the lower left quadrant is titled “New Map of the World” using Mercator’s projection. To the right of this is a chart detailing the towns and counties of the United States. An elaborate decorative border with a flora motif surrounds the map.

Jacob Monk was a Baltimore based American publisher of wall, pocket, and case format maps, active in the mid-19th century. While Monk's maps are quite popular and enjoyed a wide distribution in the 19th century, little is known of his personal life or history.


Overall, this map is in good condition, considering age and use. As is typical for wall maps of this size, there are several small cracks and a few minor chips in the map, as well as some chipping in the upper and lower margins. There are also a few damp stains confined to the upper right corner. The map has been stabilized and fully backed by a conservator. Original hand coloring slightly faded but still strong in outlines. Unframed dimensions: 55"H x 59"W. 

Archivally mounted with its original hanging hardware, in a black wooden custom built frame with UV Plexiglas and a striking black linen mat. Framed dimensions: 77"H x 79"W. 

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