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Description

The Greatest Arizona Map or View Ever Published and One of the Great Western Bird's Eyes of All Time.

Separately-issued chromolithograph view of Phoenix, Arizona Territory, printed by Schmidt Label & Co. in 1885. The view was "sketched by C.J. Dyer, Phoenix, A.T.", Dyer also holds the 1885 copyright, as noted in the lower-left corner.

The bird's eye shows Phoenix only four years after it had been incorporated, and it still a small town. An essay on the city in the lower right corner of the view notes "The town is rapidly growing and its charming situation will yet make it the leading city in Arizona. Population about 3,500." Even that figure might have been an exaggeration; modern estimates put the 1890 population at only 3,000.

This is the earliest printed map or view of Phoenix that we have found.

Though copyright-dated 1885, the view was probably available in 1884, as it is mentioned in the May 28, 1884 issue of The Weekly Arizona Miner: "The plaza at present in beautiful robe of green presents even a more beautiful appearance than the artist, C.J. Dyer, endowed it with in his recent excellent birds-eye view of the city." 

The view is superbly composed and chromolithographed, it is much more impressive than other bird's eye views published for similarly-sized towns at the time. In Views and Viewmakers of Urban America (pages 172-173), Reps has effusive praise for Dyer's Phoenix:

Two extremely rare, attractive, and brilliantly printed city views were drawn by this artist in 1885. His Phoenix, Arizona, lithograph (Color Plate 12) identifies the printer as the Schmidt Label & Litho Company of San Francisco, and almost certainly the second view, an undated view of Prescott, then still the capital of Arizona Territory, was printed by the same firm.

The composition of the Phoenix print is both unusual and effective. The principal view of the entire city is surrounded by an oval border of trimmed saplings. Dyer also used this as the rectangular outer border, to create four circular vignettes, and to divide one of the corners -- all of which contain additional vignettes -- into three compartments. A legend at the bottom left balances a description of Phoenix on the other side of the title, which appears against a background of desert and agricultural vegetation.

Perhaps W. Byrnes who put Dyer's drawing on stone contributed to this design. Even if he did not, he deserves to be recognized for creating a multi-stone colored lithograph of glowing quality whose hot tones convey the intensity of the Arizona sunshine.

Rarity

Reps locates examples at the Library of Congress Prints and Maps Divisions (it's possible this is actually only one bird's eye view). No other genuine examples are located through OCLC searches. One example has been on the market in recent decades, with Arader Galleries at $56,000.

Appendix: Vignettes and Legend

The sheet sports insets showing:

  • The Office of the Daily Phoenix Herald.
  • J.Y.T. Smith's Flour Mill
  • Res[idence] of F.M. Fowler
  • Falls of Arizona Canal.
  • Head of the Arizona Canal
  • Irvine's Block
  • Res[idence] of H.H. McNeil
  • Gregory House
  • Public School House
  • County Court House
  • Vidal & Pickering Billiard Hall & Phoenix Hotel

The legend at the lower-left numbers 29 points of interest:

  1. County Court House.
  2. Baptist Church.
  3. Washington St. Methodist Church.
  4. Public School House.
  5. Centre St. Methodist Church.
  6. Salt River Valley Canal.
  7. Residence of J.T. Simms.
  8. Gazette Printing Office.
  9. Kales & Lewis' Bank.
  10. Valley Bank.
  11. Herald Printing Office.
  12. J.Y.T. Smith's Flour Mill.
  13. Public Plaza.
  14. Irvine Building.
  15. Phoenix Swimming Baths.
  16. Phoenix Hotel, Chas. Salari, Prop.
  17. Gregory House & Lumber Yard.
  18. Hotel Lemon.
  19. Catholic Church.
  20. Dutch Ditch.
  21. Maricopa Canal.
  22. Grand Canal.
  23. Arizona Canal.
  24. Residence of H.H. McNeil.
  25. Residence of M.W. Kales.
  26. Property of E.B. Kirkland.
  27. Lount Bros.' Ice Factory.
  28. P. Minor's Lumber Yard.
  29. H.W. Ryder's Lumber Yard.
Condition Description
Additional title in manuscript in lower margin: "PHOENIX IN 1885". A few expertly mended minor cracks. Backed with archival tissue.
Schmidt Label & Litho. Co. Biography

The Schmidt Lithography Company was based in San Francisco. Max Schmidt, a German immigrant, founded his first printing business in 1873, and he was one of the first printers to use lithography on the West Coast. His plant burned twice, in 1884 and 1886, but by the 1890s he ran a factory in San Francisco, as well as branches in Portland and Seattle.

During the 1906 earthquake and fire the company’s premises were destroyed again. Schmidt quickly acquired a nearby paper factory and production continued practically uninterrupted. Within two years of the fire, Schmidt had rebuilt on the site of his former factory at the corner of Second and Bryant Streets.

Schmidt’s company was best known for its printed labels, but they also produced other items like separately-issued prints. The company was once the largest printing company on the West Coast and today they are remembered for the clock tower that still stands at Second and Bryant Streets.

C.J. Dyer Biography

C.J. Dyer took the overland route from Jackson, Michigan, to San Francisco in 1877. Within three years he was in Napa, working as a viewmaker. By 1884, he was in Arizona, where he remained at least until 1899, and possibly later.

According to Reps, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America, Dyer was responsible for the following bird's eye views:

1880 ca. C.J. Dyer. Birdseye View of Napa City California. Looking West. Published by David L. Haas, Bookseller, Stationer & Lithographer, Napa, Cala. (Reps 161)

Five years before these views appeared, Dyer produced a lithograph of Napa, California, and it is possible that he gained his experience in that state working for a more mature artist. He also drew another print showing Novato Rancho in California. No other work of his of this type is known except for a later view of Phoenix showing the city in 1890. Dyer's name is to be found on a map of irrigated land in Arizona, but no biographical information about him has yet come to light.

The Napa Valley Register mentions that Dyer is producing a view of the city in the August 3, 1880 issue.

1885. C.J. Dyer. Bird's Eye View of Phoenix, Maricopa Co., Arizona. View Looking North-East. Lithographed by W. Byrnes. Printed by Schmidt Label & Litho Co. Print. S.F. (Reps 20)

1885 ca. C.J. Dyer. Bird's-Eye View of Prescott, A.T. Looking North East. (Reps 22)

Dyer gave his Prescott view a more conventional rectangular format, using the corners for vignettes and a legend. He placed three other vignettes above the title as insets and rather awkwardly hung two sets of vignettes below the heavy ruled border on either side of the title. The printer -- probably from the Schmidt firm -- used inks of slightly more subdued colors than those chosen for the Phoenix lithograph. (Reps, page 173)

1890. C.J. Dyer. Phoenix Arizona in the Salt River Valley. View looking northeast. Schmidt, L. & L. S.F., Cal.

We can add another bird's eye view not recorded in Reps' work:

1888. C. J. Dyer. Tempe, Maricopa Co. Arizona. Looking North East.

In 1890, Dyer was advertising his new view of Phoenix in the Arizona Republic:

A Beautiful Picture. | The New | Bird's-Eye Picture of Phoenix | Is 40 inches long and 30 inches wide, is | Lithographed in Several Colors | And shows every house in Phoenix, from the Capital Addition to the West | to the Territorial Asylum on the East. | All the Streets Are Numbered | All the additions are shown; also the | Salt River Valley, Grand, Maricopa, | ....and Arizona Canals... | Can Be Sent to Any Part of the United States | Or Europe by Mail. Price, $2.00 | ....Can be procured of.... | C.J. DYER Phoenix

In the same issue of the Arizona Republic, Dyer was advertising his services as a mapmaker:

MAPS | If you want a map made of your mine go to | Dyer for it. If you want a map of any of the | canals go to Dyer for it. If you want a sketch | of your ranch or other property go to Dyer for | it. If you wish to illustrate a patent right go to | Dyer for it. All work done at reasonable rates. | Office at residence, near corner of Van Buren | and Center streets, Phoenix, Ariz. C.J. Dyer. 

In 1899 C.J. Dyer was Councilman for the First Ward of Phoenix.

Some sources have his dates as 1846-1903.