One of the rarest and most important of maps of Texas, and a foundation map for all future Texas cartography.
Jacob de Cordova was a land developer in Texas following its annexation by the United States in 1845. De Cordova and Robert Creuzbaur, working with the General Land Office, compiled from the latest surveys on a scale larger than any prior map of Texas. First issued in 1849, the map was one of the first major cartographic productions after Texas annexation into the United STatesto be based upon the records of the General Land Office.
De Cordova was one of the earliest Jewish settlers in Texas. During the War for Texas independence, he supplied goods from New Orleans, before settling in Galveston in 1837. He quickly took to his adopted homeland, adding several Indian dialects to the 5 languages which he spoke prior to his arrival. After serving a term in the Texas House of Representatives, De Cordova settled in Austin, where he and his brother published the Texas Herald. Anticipating a land boom in Texas following the Mexican War, he began speculating in land and for the next 30 years, he actively promoted immigration to Texas, which included promotional tours of the United States and Europe. As part of this campaign, he produced his first map of Texas in 1849.
Sam Houston persuaded Congress to purchase 500 copies of the 1849 edition, arguing with Jefferson Davis in support of the quality of the map and character of De Cordova during the appropriations process on the floor of the Senate. From 1849 to 1854, De Cordova published the map himself, before assigning the rights to J.H. Colton, who published the map from 1856 onward. While all editions are very rare and of great importance, this 1854 edition appears to be among the rarest. This 1854 edition of De Cordova's map was the last published version before he sold the rights to J. H. Colton of New York (this 1854 edition was the last to have a Texas imprint).
The present map is smaller in format than the other editions of De Cordova's important map of Texas, which first appeared in 1849. The other editions of De Cordova's map measure approximately 88.2 x 84 cm. Numerous changes and additions were made to this 1854 edition, and the oval map of the Transmississippi West now reflects the Compromise of 1850 and other geo-political developments. Regarding the rarity of the 1854 edition of De Cordova's map, Day in his biography of De Cordova (Jacob de Cordova: Land Merchant of Texas, Waco: Heritage Society of Waco, 1962) carefully sets out the various editions of De Cordova's map but does not mention this 1854 edition. The map is not in the Library of Congress or the Streeter collection.
Why De Cordova published this 1854 edition and why it is so rare is a mystery that remains to be solved. Perhaps De Cordova decided to create one last edition of his map before he sold the rights to Colton or perhaps De Cordova intended to use the present map in his Texas promotional ventures and publications.