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Rare variant of Rand McNally's first large format map of the United States.

In 1856, William Rand opened a printing shop in Chicago. Two years later, he hired Andrew McNally, to work in his shop. In 1868, the two men formally established Rand McNally & Co. The company initially focused on printing tickets and timetables for Chicago's booming railroad industry. In 1869, they began publishing complete railroad guides. In 1870, the company expanded into printing business directories and an illustrated newspaper, the People's Weekly. According to company lore, during the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Rand McNally quickly had two of the company's printing machines buried in a sandy beach of Lake Michigan, and the company was up and running again only a few days later.

The first several guides published by Rand McNally included maps by Gaylord Watson of New York. The first Rand McNally printed map appeared in the December 1872 edition of its Railroad Guide. Rand McNally became an incorporated business in 1873, the same year it issued is first large format map of the United States, Rand McNally and Cos. New Railway Guide Map of the United States & Canada.

The map offered here is a rare variant edition of this first map, bearing the same title and copyright date as the original edition, but with a full broadsheet of richly illustrated advertising for National Wire and Lantern Works of New York on the verso. Verso image can be viewed here: /gallery/enlarge/19350a

The map and Railroad Guide are extremely rare, with no examples of the 1873 edition listed in OCLC and only 2 or 3 examples per year located for the first few years thereafter. This example, with printed advertising on the verso, is apparently unrecorded.

Condition Description
Minor loss along two folds, as illustrated.
Rand McNally & Company Biography

Rand McNally & Co. is a large American map and navigation company best known for its annual atlases. The company got its start in 1856, when William Rand opened a print shop in Chicago. He was joined in 1858 by a new employee, Andrew McNally. Together, the men established their namesake company in 1868. Originally, the company was intended to print the tickets and timetables for the trains running to and through Chicago; their first railway guide was published in 1869.

By 1870, they had shifted from just printing to publishing directories, travel guides, and newspapers. Their first map appeared in 1872 in a railway guide. The map was produced using a new wax engraving method, a cheaper process that gave the company an edge.

By 1880 Rand McNally had entered the education market with globes, wall maps, and geography texts for students. In 1923, Rand McNally published the first Goode’s World Atlas, named after its editor, Dr. J. Paul Goode. For generations afterward, this would be the standard classroom atlas.

In 1899, William Rand left the company, but McNally and his family remained, controlling the company for over a century. In 1904, they published their first road map intended for automobiles and by 1907 were publishing Photo-Auto Guides, which combined photography and mapping to help drivers. In 1924, they produced the Auto Chum, a precursor to their famous road atlases. Rand McNally would remain the leader in road maps and atlases throughout the twentieth century.

In 1937, Rand McNally opened its first store in New York City. Ever on the frontier of technology, Rand McNally pioneered the scribing process for printing tickets in 1958 and printed their first full-color road atlas in 1960. Arthur Robinson developed his now-famous projection of Rand McNally in 1969. By the 1980s, the company was exploring digital reproduction and digital databases of maps for truckers. In the 1990s, they lead the charge to develop trip-planning software and websites. Today, most of its products are available online or in a digital format, including maps for tablets and phones.