1855 Pictorial Map of the United States, Published by Ensign, Bridgman & Fanning

An appealing and decorative 1855 wall map of the United States boldly depicting the state of Texas. Published by Ensign, Bridgman & Fanning, this map was drawn and engraved by J.M. Atwood and covers the entire United States from Atlantic to Pacific and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

Cartographically, Atwood's map illustrates an ephemeral period in the development of the American West with each of its five known editions exhibiting significant changes and updates. The present example, representing the fourth edition, reveals major developments in the American west following the events of the 1849 Gold Rush. The Gold Region itself is highlighted with Sacramento and Sutter's City noted. Great Salt Lake is presented in an embryonic form and indicative of the generally poor knowledge of the Great Basin predating the Railroad Surveys being conducted as this map went to press. Salt Lake City itself is identified as "Utah City of the Great Salt Lake". Both "Utah" and "Fillmore" are represented as regional capitals.

The rail lines at this time extended westward no further than Jefferson City, Missouri, after which only wagon trains extended to the Pacific. Many of these are noted, including the "Route to Oregon" (the famous Oregon Trail), the "Route to Santa Fe", and the southern route from "Fort Smith to Santa Fe". Other routes presented are the tracks of Fremont and the "Great Spanish Trail from Los Angeles to Santa Fe".

Texas shows some development including an embryonic rail system running between Austin and the port of Galveston. Nebraska extends northwards to the Canadian border and both Washington and Oregon have their eastern terminus at the Rocky Mountains. The Apocryphal Louis Fork or southern extension of the Columbia River, named after Meriwether Lewis, is shown in southeastern Oregon. American Indian nations are identified throughout. A smaller map of Mexico appears on the lower left quadrant.

True to its descriptive title, the map is surrounded by numerous pictorial vignettes illustrating, from the title clockwise: the Presidents of the United States, Perry's Opening of Japan, the Landing of the Pilgrims in 1620, farm tools, the 1846 Battle of Monterrey (Mexican American War), the United States House of Representatives Chamber, an illustration of Justice personified, the signing of the Declaration of Independence (largest illustration, bottom center), a personification of Liberty, the Senate Chamber, the capture of General La Vega 1846 (Mexican American War), weapons and armor, the landing of Columbus 1492, the Constitution and Guerriere (Navy Ships), and again, the Presidents.

This map was first issued by Ensign & Thayer in 1847. It was republished by Ensign & Thayer in 1849 and 1852 and then in its present form by Ensign, Bridgman & Fanning in 1855. A final edition by Ensign, Bridgman & Fanning appeared in 1858.


The map is in good condition. It has several cracks and small losses, as a result of prior use as a hanging wall map. The paper tone is consistent throughout the map. Hand coloring is original to the map and is present in the states, used to exaggerate borders, and can be found in the bottom right population chart inset. This map has been fully restored and backed onto linen using the finest archival materials and procedures.

The map is framed with a decorative wood and silver spandrel, floating on brown archival linen, UV-resistant Plexiglas, with a custom-built scroll and bead receding frame. Unframed Size: 31" H x 42" W. Framed Size: 46 ¾ H x 56 ½ W x 2 ¾” D.

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