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Map, Illinois, Midwest, Pictorial, Abraham Lincoln, Vintage Print, 1934


Karl Smith
Abraham Lincoln: A Pictorial Outline of the Life of the Sixteenth President of the United States
Karl Smith, Louisville, Kentucky: 1934
Color process print on Beckett paper
Signed in the matrix, lower right: Karl Smith, Jan. 1934, Louisville, Kentucky
16 x 21.5 inches, image
19.25 x 25 inches, overall

Historical pictorial map of the region where Abraham Lincoln grew up and spent his life prior to becoming president in 1861. The map encompasses portions of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. Geography is simple, including only the Sangamon River, Wabash River, and the Ohio River and two tributaries, and relevant place names. The emphasis is on small illustrations of historic buildings and scenes from Lincoln’s life. The period of his presidency is illustrated in the upper right section, where the map portion ends. The cartouche upper center depicts a profile portrait of Lincoln within an octagonal frame and flanked by tree branches, beneath a scroll with the map title rendered as Lincoln’s signature, with “1809-1865,” the map subtitle, and an inscription in small lettering noting the source of the signature. Small lettering above the lower center map border credits “Historical Data by John Speed, Louisville, Kentucky.”

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Karl Smith produced two versions of this map, the first published in 1934 and a revised version published in 1953. They have some similarities in basic cartography and concept, but the overall layout is different, with a different cartouche and portrait of Lincoln top center, and the addition in the 1953 version of nine inset illustrations along the top and two inset boxes in the lower left corner. The inset illustrations from the 1953 version are by and large based on ones that appeared in the 1934 version. The Sangamon River, which is partially rendered in the 1934 map, is omitted in the later one. They can be compared on our website: 1934 | 1953.

Among the scenes from Lincoln’s life are the log cabin he was born in, the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, the building in Chicago where he was nominated for president, the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, his inauguration procession, Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address, John Wilkes Booth running from the scene of Lincoln’s assassination, and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. There is a decorative compass rose in the center. A large illustration that is part of the map’s lower right corner depicts his grandfather, also named Abraham Lincoln, walking alongside a covered wagon in 1782 when he and his family traveled through the Cumberland Gap to settle in Kentucky.

Karl Smith was a designer and illustrator of pictorial maps. His primary career was as an executive in the paper and graphic arts industries, but he drew maps as an avocation. Smith was also an active amateur historian who amassed a major collection on heraldry and genealogy and presented lectures on printing, paper, color, heraldry, and the life of Benjamin Franklin. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Speed Art Museum (then the J.B. Speed Art Museum) in Louisville, Kentucky, commissioned Karl Smith to make a series of pictorial maps of the states. In 1959 he created a series of four historical pictorial maps of the United States for Linweave Paper Company, showing the nation’s growth and development from the colonial era to the present. Over the course of his career he produced maps of North Carolina, Arkansas, Ohio, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida, the Stratford Plantation in Virginia, and historical maps of the lives of Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, handling, scattered soft creases. Paper watermarked Beckett.


“Growth and development of America in maps by Linweave.” Springfield, Massachusetts: Linweave Paper Company, 1959. Online at: David Rumsey Map Collection.–Growth-and-development-o?qvq=w4s:/who%2FSmith%2C%2BKarl;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=4&trs=30 (16 April 2019).

Hornsby, Stephen J. Picturing America, The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. pp. 166-67.

“Images by Smith, Karl.” David Rumsey Map Collection.,+Karl (16 April 2019).

Additional information


20th Century