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Map, United States, Cartographic Curiosity, Cloth, Antique, Tuttle, Boston, c. 1840s

George W. Boynton (died 1884) (engraver)
A Map of the United States, from the Latest Surveys, with the Height of Mountains and Length of the Principal Rivers
Joseph W. Tuttle & Company, Boston, Massachusetts: c. 1841-49
Printed linen and hand color
24.75 x 24.75 inches, border
28 x 25 inches, overall
Price on request

An unusual and rare printed textile map of the United States, also known as a “handkerchief map.”  The map, issued in the 1840s, incorporates the entire Atlantic coastline to slightly west of the Missouri River and the western borders of the states of Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana. It is printed in black ink with the states outlined in shades of brown, yellow and gray. Geography includes rivers, capitals, and major towns, with the prime meridian through Washington, D.C. An explanatory key notes that a line of alternating dots and dashes indicates a “boundary” between states except “Where a boundary line ceases on intersecting a River the River becomes the boundary.” A pair of inset charts below the map offer pictorial and numerical comparisons of the lengths of principal rivers and heights of principal mountains. The map and charts are enclosed within a decorative foliate border incorporating oak leaves and acorns.

Product description continued below.


The map is copyrighted in 1841; the following promotional announcement of this map appeared in an 1841 periodical:

Maps on Silk. — Certain ingenious and patriotic gentlemen of Boston, associated under the name or style of Joseph W. Tuttle & Company, have published a very good map of the United States on a sheet, not of paper but of silk; the which sheet, but for the map, would be called a pocket-handkerchief.

In this announcement, the term “silk” may have been used more generically to refer to a finely woven fabric, since this and other examples appear to have been printed on linen. The map can be dated to no later than 1849 because the boundary of Iowa Territory includes territory west of Wisconsin to the present day Canadian border; after March 3, 1849 a portion of Iowa Territory was carved out to create Minnesota Territory.  The David Rumsey map collection has an uncolored version printed in light sepia (brown) ink.  Rumsey notes another example in full color; this might be in reference to the Tuttle map in the collection of the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library. American cloth maps of the 19h Century are rare. As noted on the Rumsey website, the scholarly book Threads of History shows only four early linen maps published in the United States: the Tuttle United States cloth map, Mitchell’s 1835 Traveler’s Guide map and two cloth maps of Washington, D.C.

George W. Boynton was an engraver of maps in Boston, providing his services starting in about the 1830s to a variety of publishers there including Thomas G. Bradford, John P. Jewett and Joseph W. Tuttle. Boynton was also responsible for updating 12-inch terrestrial globes manufactured by Gilman Joslin, Boston, in the mid 19th Century.

Joseph Willard Tuttle (1813-1888) was an engraver in Boston, active from 1837 to 1860 under the name of Morse & Tuttle and under his own name as Joseph W. Tuttle.

Full publication information: Patent. Printed and Published by Joseph W. Tuttle Company, Boston, Mass. Engraved by H.W. Boynton 109 Washington Street Boston. Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1841 by the Tremont Print Company in the Clerks Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, handling, soft creases. Folds as issued, with the usual slight additional weakness, darkening, wear at folds. Few scattered short minor marginal tears and small pale discoloration patches. Blank margins slightly short on sides, and askew on top, as issued.


“A Map of the United States, from the latest surveys.” David Rumsey Map Collection. 2020.,-from-th (16 November 2020).

Herbert Ridgeway Collins, Threads Of History: Americana Recorded on Cloth 1775 to the Present. Smithsonian Books: 1979.

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. p. 640 (Tuttle).

“Map of the United States, from the latest surveys…” Norman B. Leventhal map & Education Center. (16 November 2020).

“Minnesota Territory.” Wikipedia. 28 September 2020. (16 November 2020).

Additional information


19th Century