1858 "Mitchell's New National Map Exhibiting the United States..." Hanging Wall Map by S.A. Mitchell

Presented is a beautifully engraved, large wall map of the United States, Mexico, and West Indies by Samuel Augustus Mitchell. The map depicts the entire nation from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. It also includes inset maps of the “Map of the World on the Mercator Projection, Exhibiting the American Continent at its Center” and the “Map of the World on the Globular Projection, Exhibiting the Eastern and Western Hemispheres,” an inset of the Hawaiian Islands, distance and population tables, and more. First published in 1856, “Mitchell’s New National Map” was one of the most commercially successful maps of its time, regularly amended to update the changing territorial and state borders of the West. This specific map was published in Philadelphia in 1858 and engraved by W. Williams.

The map presents a compelling picture of an evolving American West, capturing the fluidity of pre-Civil War territorial boundaries. Much changed in the few years surrounding the publication of this map as the 1850s were characterized by the drawing of territorial boundaries, the creation of new states, continued relocation campaigns against Native Americans, and the rise and fall of small-scale territorial rebellions.

On this map we see New Mexico in its late 1850s form, with a lower strip labeled Arizona. The same year as the publication of this map, the New Mexico territorial legislature adopted a resolution in favor of the creation of the Arizona Territory. Colorado is divided up between large Utah and Kansas Territories. Utah also includes much of Nevada as the Nevada Territory was not formally created until March of 1861.

In 1848, Oregon Territory was created out of the vast Pacific Northwest region. Then Washington Territory was separated off in 1853. In this map, these extend east to the Continental Divide to meet a large Nebraska, which itself extends east to Dacotah, featuring an area near the Canadian border labeled “Buffalo Region.”

In addition to the fascinating border and territory lines drawn on the map, this engraving boasts an ornate floral border. The decorative border features four engraved vignettes, each thematic expressions of both the historical legacy and growing spirit of an expanding and powerful nation. The vignettes are “Landing of the Pilgrims Dec. 22nd. 1620,” “American Steamship Crossing the Atlantic,” “Columbus Ship Discovery of America Oct. 12th 1492,” and “Clipper Ship Flying Cloud.”

Samuel Augustus Mitchell Sr. (1792 - 1868) began his map-publishing career in the early 1830s. Having worked as a schoolteacher, Mitchell was frustrated with the low quality and inaccuracy of school texts of the period. His first maps were an attempt to rectify this problem. In the next 20 years Mitchell would become the most prominent American map publisher of the mid-19th century. Mitchell worked with prominent engravers J. H. Young, H. S. Tanner, and H. N. Burroughs before attaining the full copyright on his maps in 1847.

In 1849, Mitchell teamed up with printer Cowperthwait & Company to produce Mitchell's Universal Atlas and Mitchell's General Atlas. In the late 1850s most of the Mitchell copyrights were bought by Desilver and Co., who continued to publish his maps, many with modified borders and color schemes, until Mitchell's son, Samuel Augustus Mitchell Jr., entered the picture. S. A. Mitchell Jr. purchased most of the copyrights back from Desilver and, from 1860 on, published his own New General Atlas. The younger Mitchell became as prominent as his father and published atlases well into the late 1880s when most of the copyrights were again sold and the Mitchell firm closed its doors for the final time.

CONDITION:

Engraving, hand-colored. Engraved on four sheets. Some yellowing and light rubbing to map, fairly light staining at top and bottom portions and in margins. Past subtle consolidation work applied by the experts at Zukor Art Conservation in Oakland, California, including repair to losses and frayed edges with toned Japanese paper. These mends serve as a preventative measure to reduce further deterioration along exposed edges. Map measures 55” H x 55” W plus decorative borders and population table at the bottom. 

The map has been archivally mounted, hanging on its wooden dowels, and framed in a new, custom wooden and gold frame with acid-free mats and backing, a custom gold-leaf descriptive plate, and UV Plexiglas. Framed Dimensions: 84" H x 80 1/2" W x 6" D.




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