Sign In

- Or use -
Forgot Password Create Account
This item has been sold, but you can enter your email address to be notified if another example becomes available.

Very Rare 1868 Edition of Keeler's Indian Bureau Map - The "Small" Keeler.

William Keeler's map was one of the most influential cartographic treatments of the American West during the height of Indian removal west of the Mississippi. Its focus is three-fold: to delineate the newly-formed Native American reservations, to display the mineral wealth of the American West, and to track the procession of the railroads across the plains and mountains.

Keeler's efforts were first made manifest in a massive map published in 1867. That superb map borders on too-large-to-be-useful, as Wheat (1170) notes: "Keeler's large and imposing map is of almost unmanageable size..." Given that the map was intended for use by people traveling in and working on the frontier, practicality and ease of use were more than a passing concern. Thus in 1868, one year after the first edition was put out, Keeler published two reduced-size editions. The present map is the medium-sized version (37.25x29.5 inches) and a smaller version was also issued (22x28.5 inches, according to Wheat).

Although the large and medium maps have superficial similarities (for instance in the decorative title fonts), the 1867 and 1868 Keelers are completely different maps. They are printed from different matrixes, with different geographic scopes, levels of detail, and information.

Rumsey (4640) notes of his 1868 Keeler:

This is the reduced issue with slightly more coverage in the east and more progressed railroad development. The detail is, of course, less, due to the smaller scale, and the minerals are not colored in. Nonetheless it is still an excellent map of the west in its time, and is far more scarce than the larger issue of 1867.

In our example, the minerals have been colored, which was also the case in the Dorothy Sloan example sold in 2007 (see notes on editions and rarity). The map is color-coded to show the locations of Gold, Silver, Copper, Quicksilver, Iron, and Coal. Completed and proposed railroad lines are shown, as are Land Offices, Forts and Military Posts.

Keeler's large map has been described as the largest, finest, and most detailed map of the West as it was then known. "In 1867, seeking to take advantage of public interest in all aspects of the West, but particularly the railroad routes, William J. Keeler, an engineer working in the Indian Bureau, published a large, attractive map of the entire country west of the Mississippi. As a product no doubt of Keeler's own employment with the Indian Bureau, the various Indian reservations were clearly shown and identified by a color scheme, an early use of this thematic device." (Martin & Martin)

Keeler's influence on the history of the mapping of the Transmississippi West was profound, and the differences between his various maps underappreciated.

Editions and States

1867.1 National Map of the United States (57.5 x 47.5 inches)

1867.2 National Map of the United States (57.5 x 47.5 inches)

1868.a National Map of the United States (37.25 x 29.5 inches), the present example

1868.b National Map of the United States (22 x 28.5 inches), Wheat 1187


The medium 1868 map is quite a bit rarer than the 1867, this being the first time we have offered it for sale. Dorothy Sloan sold 1868 Keelers in 2006 and 2007, the first for $4,600 and the second for $6,462.

Condition Description
Folding map. Color a little faded. Small amount of standing at a few intersecting folds. Good to Very Good.
Martin & Martin, 47; Rumsey, 4640; See Wheat, Transmississippi West, 1187 (V, pages 237-238), cf., 1170.