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The Earliest Commercially Printed Map of California to Show the Baselines and Meridians in California

A remarkable early map of Califiornia, published by Leander Ransom for the California Academy of Natural Sciences and lithographed in San Francisco by B.F. Butler.

The map is one of the first maps of the state of California printed in California. We have dated the map at 1853, which is the first year of the Academy. Vodges dates the map as "some time in the fifties." Rowell dates the map as "185-".

This is the only map of which we are aware the records the "lines of equal variation of the compass, or Magnetic Needle."

B.F. Butler was one of the earliest lithographers working in San Francisco. Butler was the lithographer for Eddy's map of San Francisco, published in 1851.

Leander Ransom

Leander Ransom (1800 - 1874) was born in Colchester, Connecticut and educated in New York.

In 1825, he went to Ohio where he married and had three children. Early in his career, Ransom was employed by the Ohio Canal Company. In 1826 he was appointed to locate a portion of the Ohio Canal. Later he was appointed as Commissioner to the Ohio Canal Commission. In 1836 he was appointed as President of Board of Public Works of Ohio, a position he held for 13 Years.

Colonel Leander Ransom came to California in 1851 with Samuel D. King, who was the U. S. Surveyor General for California. They arrived in San Francisco on June 14, 1851. On July 8, 1851 King issued special instructions to Ransom for the establishment of the initial point on Mount Diablo and the initial surveys of the Meridian and Base Line. King charged Ransom to "Go to Mount Diablo and provide that: an east and west Base and north and south Meridian line be run and established passing through the most prominent peak of Mount Diablo."

From July 1851 to September 1851, Ransom conducted the first Public Land Survey in California as Deputy Surveyor. The Mount Diablo Principal Meridian and Base Line extending from the Mount Diablo Initial Point, established on July 17, 1851 by Ransom, controls Public Land Surveys within two-thirds of California and all of Nevada.

In August of 1852, King ordered Ransom to examine the southern California region of San Bernardino Mountain to see if it would be feasible to establish an initial point on it's summit. Ransom report to King that it would be possible. In September of 1852, King issued instructions to Henry Washington, Deputy Surveyor to establish the San Bernardino Initial Point.

Ransom would go on to serve as Chief Clerk in the California Surveyor General's Office in San Francisco from 1851 to the 1860's.

In 1853, Ransom became a Charter Member of California Academy of Sciences. In addition, he was an early and active member of the Academy, serving as President for eleven terms beginning in 1856.


OCLC locates a single copy at the California Historical Society. Rowell lists a copy at the Bancroft.

Condition Description
Laid on later linen. Very fragile, with fold splits and cracks throughout, supported by the linen.