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First edition, second state of this rare and important separately issued map of Kansas and Nebraska, published by J.H. Colton in New York.

Colton's map is the first printed map to show the configurations of Nebraska and Kansas after the creation of Kansas Territory. The map encompasses the territories of Nebraska and Kansas as well as the surrounding areas. It extends westward to the Great Salt Lake and to Crockett, Texas in the south with the range extended further south to El Paso in a vignette of the "Territory acquired from Mexico by the Gadsden Treaty" signed the previous year.

The map also includes an inset of North America and is quite detailed. Details the Sante Fe and Oregon "Routes" as well as listing both Indian and modern names for rivers and such. Also has several decorative scenes of wildlife, Indian dances and buffalo hunting and a wagon train.

One of the most sought after maps of the Transmississippi West. As noted by Rumsey (describing the first state of the first edition):

First map to show the new Kansas and Nebraska; also shows the important Gadsden Purchase of the same year. This state precedes all other copies we have seen - it is an early pull from the late 1854, early 1855 Colton Map of the United States of America... wall map plate (see our #2834, indicating it appeared in middle or late 1854 - see our 1855 wall map copy #2278 for the corrected topography), with the title different from the second 1854 state, in that the letters of Nebraska and Kansas have stars in them and are open as opposed to the black letters of the second state. Also, this first state has numerous areas that are "cleaned up" in the second state: the trail that crosses the two forks of the Colorado in southern Utah near the map edge has the word "Route" on it - this is removed in the second state; the vine border is reversed from the first to the second state; Louisiana is written straight across in the first - it curves down in the second; Bucksport and San Augustine are shown in Texas along the map southern edge in the second state and not in the first; Sacket's Well and Laguna in California in the inset map are given dots for their location in the second state but not in the first. There are other changes. Streeter shows a second edition in 1855, Heaston a third edition in 1856, but both copyrighted 1855. These have various route changes and place names added when compared to the 1854. A fourth edition appeared in 1857 (see Karrow 12-0361.2 and Graff 836) with the inset of the U.S. changed to Eastern Nebraska and Kansas.

The map is quite rare on the market, this being the third example we have handled in 25 years.

Condition Description
Original hand-color. Removed from original red cloth gilt-lettered folder (still present). Flattened. Few expert fold reinforcements and some minor restoration..
Streeter 3062, Rumsey 3873.
Joseph Hutchins Colton Biography

G. W. & C. B. Colton was a prominent family firm of mapmakers who were leaders in the American map trade in the nineteenth century. Its founder, Joseph Hutchins Colton (1800-1893), was a Massachusetts native. Colton did not start in the map trade; rather, he worked in a general store from 1816 to 1829 and then as a night clerk at the United States Post Office in Hartford, Connecticut. By 1830, he was in New York City, where he set up his publishing business a year later.

The first printed item with his imprint is dated 1833, a reprint of S. Stiles & Company’s edition of David Burr’s map of the state of New York. He also printed John Disturnell’s map of New York City in 1833. Colton’s next cartographic venture was in 1835, when he acquired the rights to John Farmer’s seminal maps of Michigan and Wisconsin. Another early and important Colton work is his Topographical Map of the City and County of New York and the Adjacent Country (1836). In 1839, Colton began issuing the Western Tourist and Emigrant’s Guide, which was originally issued by J. Calvin Smith.

During this first decade, Colton did not have a resident map engraver; he relied upon copyrights purchased from other map makers, most often S. Stiles & Company, and later Stiles, Sherman & Smith. Smith was a charter member of the American Geographical and Statistical Society, as was John Disturnell. This connection would bear fruit for Colton during the early period in his career, helping him to acquire the rights to several important maps. By 1850, the Colton firm was one of the primary publishers of guidebooks and immigrant and railroad maps, known for the high-quality steel plate engravings with decorative borders and hand watercolors.

In 1846, Colton published Colton’s Map of the United States of America, British Possessions . . . his first venture into the wall map business. This work would be issued until 1884 and was the first of several successful wall maps issued by the firm, including collaborative works with D.G. Johnson. From the 1840s to 1855, the firm focused on the production of railroad maps. Later, it published a number of Civil War maps.

In 1855, Colton finally issued his first atlas, Colton’s Atlas of the World, issued in two volumes in 1855 and 1856. In 1857 the work was reduced to a single volume under the title of Colton’s General Atlas, which was published in largely the same format until 1888. It is in this work that George Woolworth (G. W.) Colton’s name appears for the first time.

Born in 1827 and lacking formal training as a mapmaker, G. W. joined his father’s business and would later help it to thrive. His brother Charles B. (C. B.) Colton would also join the firm. Beginning in 1859, the General Atlas gives credit to Johnson & Browning, a credit which disappears after 1860, when Johnson & Browning launched their own atlas venture, Johnson’s New Illustrated (Steel Plate) Family Atlas, which bears Colton’s name as the publisher in the 1860 and 1861 editions.

J.H. Colton also published a number of smaller atlases and school geographies, including his Atlas of America (1854-56), his Illustrated Cabinet Atlas (1859), Colton’s Condensed Cabinet Atlas of Descriptive Geography (1864) and Colton’s Quarto Atlas of the World (1865). From 1850 to the early 1890s, the firm also published several school atlases and pocket maps. The firm continued until the late 1890s, when it merged with a competitor and then ceased to trade under the name Colton.