1855 Colton Map of California and San Francisco
Description: A beautiful 1855 first edition first state example of Colton's map of California. This is one of the rarest and most desirable of all Colton atlas maps. Like most of Colton's state maps, this map was derived from an earlier wall map of North America produced by Colton and D. Griffing Johnson. Covers the entire state of California with a large inset of San Francisco in the upper right quadrant. Colton identifies a number of important emigrant and exploratory routes including Fremont's Route and three proposed routes for the Atlantic - Pacific Railroad. The Beswith route comes into the state near Pyramid Lake before turning south to terminate in San Francisco. At the bottom of them map are two forks of the Parke Route which ran through New Mexico before splitting off into two routes, one of which terminated in San Diego, the other of which ran up the coast to San Francisco. Offers a detailed treatment of the California gold region near Sacramento, but make no specific mention of gold deposits. This map further identifies various forts, rivers, mountain passes, fords, and an assortment of additional topographical details. Map is hand colored in pink, green, yellow and blue pastels to define territory and state boundaries. Surrounded by Colton's typical spiral motif border. Dated and copyrighted to J. H. Colton, 1855. Published from Colton's 172 William Street Office in New York City. Issued as page no. 52 in volume 1 of the first edition of George Washington Colton's 1855 Atlas of the World.
Date: 1855 (dated)
Source: Colton, G. W., Colton's Atlas of the World Illustrating Physical and Political Geography, Vol 1, New York, 1855 (First Edition).
References: Rumsey 0149.057 (1856 edition). Phillips (Atlases) 816.
Cartographer: Joseph Hutchins Colton (July 5, 1800 - July 29, 1893), often publishing as J. H. Colton, was an important American map and atlas publisher active from 1833 to 1893 (though the firm continued to published in 1897). Colton's firm arose from humble beginnings when he moved to New York in 1831 and befriended the established engraver Samuel Stiles. Colton recognized an emerging market in railroad maps and immigrant guides. Not a cartographer or engraver himself, Colton's initial business practice mostly involved purchasing the copyrights of other cartographers, most notably David H. Burr, and reissuing them with updated engraving and border work. His first maps, produced in 1833, were based on earlier Burr maps and depicted New York State and New York City. Between 1833 and 1855 Colton would proceed to publish a large corpus of guidebooks and railroad maps which proved to be very popular. In the early 1850s Colton brought his two sons, George Woolworth Colton (1827 - 1901) and Charles B. Colton (1832 - 1916), into the map business. G. W. Colton, trained as a cartographer and engraver, was particularly inspired by the idea of creating a large and detailed world atlas to compete established European firms for the U.S. market. In 1855 G.W. Colton issued volume one the impressive two volume Colton's Atlas of the World. Volume two followed a year later. Possibly because of the expense of purchasing a two volume atlas set, the sales of the Atlas of the World did not meet Colton's expectations and it was thus that, in 1856, they also issued the Atlas as a single volume. The maps contained in this superb work were all original engravings and most bear an 1855 copyright. All of the maps were surrounded by an attractive spiral motif border that would become a hallmark of Colton's atlas maps well into the 1880s. In 1857 the slightly smaller Colton's General Atlas replaced the Atlas of the World. Most early editions of the General Atlas published from 1857 to 1859 do not have the trademark Colton spiral border, which was removed to allow the maps to fit into a smaller format volume. Their customers must have missed the border because it was reinstated in 1860 and remained in all subsequent publications of the atlas. There were also darker times ahead, in 1857 Colton was commissioned at sum of 25,000 USD by the Government of Bolivia to produce and deliver 2500 copies a large format map of that country. Though Colton completed the contract in good faith, delivering the maps at his own expense, he was never paid by Bolivia, which was at the time in the midst of a national revolution. Colton would spend the remainder of his days fighting with the Bolivian and Peruvian governments over this payment and in the end received over 100,000 USD in compensation. However, at the time, it must have been a disastrous blow. J. H. Colton and Company is listed as one of New York's failed companies in the postal record of 1859. It must have been this event which led Colton into the arms of Alvin Jewett Johnson and Ross C. Browning. The 1859 edition of Colton's Atlas lists Johnson and Browning as the "Successor's to J. H. Colton" suggesting an outright buyout, but given that both companies continued to publish separately, the reality is likely more complex. Whatever the case may have been, this arrangement gave Johnson and Browning access to many of Colton's map plates and gave birth to Johnson's New Illustrated (Steel Plate) Family Atlas. The Johnson's Atlas was published parallel to the Colton atlas well in to the 1880s. The Colton firm itself also published several other atlases including an Atlas of America, the Illustrated Cabinet Atlas, the Octavo Atlas of the Union, and Colton's Quarto Atlas of the World. They also published a large corpus of pocket maps and guides. The last known publications of the Colton firm dated to 1897 and include a map and a view, both issued in association with the Merchant's Association of New York. In 1898 the Colton firm merged with the Ohman Firm and continued to published as Colton, Ohman & Co. until 1901.Click here for a list of rare maps from Joseph Hutchins Colton.
Size: Printed area measures 13 x 16 inches (33.02 x 40.64 centimeters)
Condition: Very good condition. Blank on verso.
Code: California-colton-1855 (Necessary for phone inquiries: 646-320-8650)