City of Detroit, Michigan 1884
Map on 19th Century Lithographic Stone

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Map of Detroit lithographic stone

Map side of lithographic stone as it appears, with design reversed for printing.

Detail of Detroit map

Detail of map, digitally reversed to show how it would appear if printed.

Detail of bank checks verso

Bank check side of lithographic stone, as it appears, with design reversed for printing.

City of Detroit, Michigan 1884
Calvert Lith. Co., Detroit: 1885
Lithographic stone
9 x 5.5 x 3 inches, approximate
Sold, please inquire as to the availability of similar items.

Original lithographic stone used by Calvert Lithograph Company, Detroit, Michigan. One side has a map of Detroit dated 1884, showing streets, railroad tracks and depots, ferry routes, parks, cemeteries and the Detroit River. Above the map cartouche, presumably outside the printing area, is the date “1885.” On the other side of the stone are two bank checks for A. Backus Jr. & Sons Lumber in Detroit. Since this stone was used for printing, the designs on both sides are in reverse.

In the traditional lithographic process, a slab of limestone is ground to a smooth surface, on which the design is drawn in reverse with oil media such as a grease crayon. The non-printing parts of the design are sealed with a solution of gum arabic and acid, but the original drawing will receive ink when the plate is printed. Today, stones are still sometimes used for fine art printing, but most lithography is done on chemically-treated metal plates. Stones with original 19th century graphics are rare since the stones were often reused.

Calvert & Company was a Detroit, Michigan, lithography firm active from at least the 1860s to the first decade of the 20th century. In addition to general commercial printing of such items as stock and bond certificates, bank checks, and trade cards, they provided the lithography for maps and atlases of Michigan, Wisconsin and Detroit. They seem to have been most active in map lithography during the 1870s and ‘80s, for publishers such as R.M. & S.T. Tackabury and the Silas Farmer Company. They also published a bird’s-eye view of the central portion of Detroit (c. 1889) under their own imprint, which is in the Panoramic Maps Collection of the Library of Congress.

Map Cartouche: City of Detroit Michigan 1884, Lithographed and Copyrighted by The Calvert Lith. Co., Detroit.

Verso: Bank checks issued by A. Ives & Sons, Bankers, Detroit for A. Backus Jr. & Sons, Lumber, 505 Fort St. West.


“Birds eye view--showing about three miles square--of the central portion of the city of Detroit, Michigan.” Library of Congress Geography and Map Division., digital ID g4114d pm003420 (30 January 2009).