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Map, New York State, Wall Map, Sherman & Smith, Ensign & Thayer, Antique Print, 1851


Sherman and Smith (act. 1840-1853) (drawn and engraved by)
Map of the State of New York
Ensign & Thayer, New York: 1851 (copyright 1849)
Hand-colored steel engraving, dissected on linen, and folding
33.25 x 43 inches

An extremely rare folding wall map of New York State, including seven inset city street plans and a vignette illustration of a landscape near Niagara Falls. The detailed cartography shows the boundaries of counties highlighted with red lines; the boundaries of cities and towns, outlined and shaded in contrasting tones; rivers and lakes; and rail lines. Mountain ranges are indicated by hatched shading. All of Lake Ontario, part of Lake Erie, and some of the neighboring Canadian areas are also included. The inset maps include a large one of New York City and part of Brooklyn that includes street names. The others show Buffalo, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Utica and Troy. In the corners are finely executed vignette portraits of prominent New Yorkers: DeWitt Clinton, Robert Fulton, Daniel D. Tomkins, and Henry Hudson. A pictorial “View of Suspension Bridge Niagara River near the Falls” drawn by William Wade decorates the lower left corner. The entire map is enclosed within an elaborate border of acanthus leaves and floral motifs shaded to resemble carved architectural reliefs.

Product description continues below.


Part of the map’s historical interest is as a document of the early development of railroad lines that would gradually supplant Erie Canal barges as the main mode of shipping bulk goods across the state, as well as the rail line extending the length of Long Island from Brooklyn to the northeastern tip. The pictorial illustration in the lower left corner shows picnickers near Niagara Falls and prominently features modern transportation technology: a suspension bridge and an approaching locomotive.

This large wall map edition of the map is evidently quite rare. We could locate only one other version at this size at the Cornell University Library. Theirs is dated 1850 and this one is dated 1851. The map’s design is apparently the same in every detail as a version Ensign & Thayer published in a smaller size (26.75 x 35.5 inches) in 1850, 1851, 1853 (and in 1858 and 1861 under the imprint Ensign, Bridgman & Fanning). The New York State Library, New York Public Library and Cornell University Library have copies of all or some of those smaller maps in their collections.

Horace Thayer was a lithographer and map publisher active in New York City, Buffalo and Warsaw, New York. He came to New York City in 1845 and shared an office from 1846-47 with the Kellogg brothers, a large multi-city publishing operation, principally located in Hartford, Connecticut.  Horace Thayer, was part of Thayer, Bridgman and Fanning that worked as a printing partnership in New York City from about 1853 to 1861. They published Traditions of De-Coo-Dah about ancient Native American mounds and fortifications (first edition 1853). The three members of the firm were also variously in business partnerships with other New York City printing firms. Both Fanning and Thayer also worked with Timothy and Edward Ensign, and with their associates. Horace Thayer spent the period between 1854 and 1858 in Warsaw, New York, establishing a map roller manufactory. He returned to New York City in 1859, but left again for Warsaw by 1864. In 1866 he moved to the nearby village of Johnsonburg and was still there in 1874. Between 1841 and 1861 the Ensigns worked with the firms Phelps, Humphrey; Ensigns & Thayer (with Horace Thayer); and as Ensign, Bridgman & Fanning. All of these various firms, including Thayer, Bridgman and Fanning, produced a number of notable books on American history and traveler’s guides that incorporated maps and illustrations, as well as separately issued wall and pocket maps and prints.

Sherman & Smith was an American map publishing firm based in New York City from 1840 to 1853 It was a partnership between the engraver George E. Sherman (born 1810/11) and the surveyor, geographer, and engraver John Calvin Smith (1809-1890). They produced many maps and engravings for government publications, such as the official records of the 1838-1842 United States Exploring Expedition. They also produced maps for the Army Corps of Engineers and New York State Geological Survey, along with U.S. coastal surveys and railroad maps. Sherman worked as an engraver in New York from 1840 until at least 1860. Smith began working in New York in 1835. He was a charter member of the American Geographical Society. Sherman & Smith sometimes published as Stiles, Sherman & Smith in collaboration with the engraver Samuel Stiles (1796-1861). John Calvin Smith also worked with other cartographers and publishers including John Disturnell and J.H. Colton, and published  maps under his own name.

William Wade was an engraver, designer, and draftsman, active in New York City in the mid 19th century. In 1844 he published an engraved panorama of the Hudson River from New York City to Albany.

Publication information upper left corner: “Map of the State of New York Published by Ensign & Thayer. No. 50 Ann St. New York. & 12 Exchange St. Buffalo N.Y. 1851. And Sherman & Smith.”

Copyright notice lower left beneath vignette illustration: “Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1849 by Ensign & Thayer, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.”

Condition: A folding map, dissected on linen, likely as issued. Generally very good with the usual overall toning, wear, handling. Professionally cleaned and deacidified, linen rebacked, restoring a few minor marginal chips.  Counties outlined in red, somewhat faded.


Groce, George C. and Wallace, David H. The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America 1564-1860. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969. pp. 575-576, 588.

Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. “Map of the state of New York” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1850. (2 October 2020)

“Map of the State of New York.” Cornell University Library. 2020. (2 October 2020).

Peters, Harry T. America on Stone. U.S.: Doubleday, Doran, 1931. pp. 181, 325.

“Showing all editions for ‘Map of the State of New York.'” WorldCat. (1 October 2020).

Additional information


19th Century