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Map, World, Mercator’s Projection, JH Colton, Antique, New York, 1856

$900

Colton’s Map of The World on Mercator’s Projection
J. H. Colton & Company, New York: 1856
probably from The Volume of the World, J. & H. Miller, Columbus, Ohio: 1856
Hand-colored lithograph
19.75 x 28 inches, image
23 x 29.75 inches, overall
$900

Detailed, large map of the world on Mercator’s Projection, shaded in colors of pink, yellow, and green. The map places North and South America slightly right of center, so that the only continent that is discontinuous is Asia.  Alaska is called Russian America. Three small sections of Antarctic coastline are mapped, reflecting geographic knowledge at the time, with a brief explanatory text about Cook’s discoveries there. Central Africa was also largely unknown to the Western World and is labeled “Unexplored Region.” The oceans show the tracks of explorations by Cook, Clarke, Vancouver, and de La Perouse. Also shown is the route of the USS Vincennes, the first US Navy ship to circumnavigate the world. Numerous ships are illustrated as well. A compass rose lower right is drawn as 32 radiating lines labeled with directional points. Mountain ranges are shaded pictorially to show relief. Coastlines are also shaded with concentric lines. Geography labels countries, cities, islands, and bodies of water.

Product description continues below.

Description

The map is set within an elaborate Victorian foliate border; within an oval reserve in the lower center border it states “Printed for J. & H. Miller, Columbus, Ohio.” This is likely in reference to the maps such as the offered one having been originally included as a folding map in a large geography book of the world published by the Miller firm. The book, written by Thomas H. Prescott (a pseudonym of William O. Blake), has a long title and subtitle, which mentions the map:  The Volume of the World: embracing the geography history and statistics of the nations of the earth . . . also embellished with a map of the world on Mercator’s projection with its details brought down to the latest date of geographical discovery and delineating the principal voyages of discovery since the time of Columbus. The offered map presumably was so issued originally. The map is copyrighted in the lower right 1852. Examples of this folding Colton world map are known dated 1855, the offered map dated 1856, and a later example dated 1859 showing the transatlantic cable. Other, slightly smaller, versions Colton’s world map on Mercator’s Projection were issued in Colton’s atlas starting in 1855; they are much more common than the offered map. Colton also published separately issued larger wall maps of this world map on Mercator’s projection.

Between 1831 and 1890, the Colton firm dominated American map publishing and their atlases were the finest produced in the U.S. during the 19th century. The company was founded by Joseph H. Colton, who had no formal training in geography or cartography; his principal role was to manage the production and distribution of the maps. He began by publishing maps drawn by David H. Burr in the 1830s. The firm was renamed G.W. & C.B. Colton in the 1860s when Colton was succeeded by his sons — George Woolworth Colton (1827-1901) and Charles B. Colton (c. 1831-1916). It is believed that George Colton compiled the company’s 1855 Atlas of the World and served thereafter as the firm’s principal map compiler, cartographer and engraver. The company continued to publish maps and atlases until 1892. Whether they were bought out or simply ceased production at that point is not known. According to map historian Walter W. Ristow: “At that date, wax engraving had been adopted as a reproduction medium by most of the large American cartographic publishers. Having built their business on engraving and lithography, the Coltons were apparently unwilling to reorganize it.”

J. & H. Miller (John and Henry Miller) were booksellers and publishers in Columbus, Ohio active in the mid 19th century. Among their publications were Colton’s Map of The World on Mercator’s Projection included in large geography book and other folding maps in books.

Full publication information, beneath title and in lower right corner­: Published by J.H. Colton & Co. 172 William St., New York. Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1852 by J.H. Colton in the Clerks office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Condition: Generally very good recently professionally cleaned and deacidified, the original folds restored, reinforced, and flattened as laid on Japanese paper, with some remaining light oxidation along the fold lines, and otherwise now with only minor toning, wear, handling.

References:

Cohen, Paul E. and Augustyn, Robert T. Manhattan in Maps: 1527-1995. New York: Rizzoli, 1997. p. 120.

Ristow, Walter W. American Maps & Mapmakers: Commercial Cartography in the 19th Century. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1985. pp. 325, 327.

Footnote:

Full title of Prescott book published by J. & H. Miller: The Volume of the World: embracing the geography history and statistics of the nations of the earth: their governments institutions finances population industry productions arts sciences education religion laws and customs; with complete statistical tables from the latest authentic sources and one hundred illustrations of works of art and nature views of cities public buildings important localities prominent objects in natural history and delineations of civilized and savage life; also embellished with a map of the world on Mercator’s projection with its details brought down to the latest date of geographical discovery and delineating the principal voyages of discovery since the time of Columbus.

Additional information

Century

19th Century