One of the Great Rarities of American Atlas Collecting - Fielding Lucas's A New and Elegant General Atlas.
A nice, unsophisticated example of Fielding Lucas's first atlas, published in Baltimore around 1816.
This is the largest variant of the New and Elegant General Atlas, including a total of 54 engraved maps; two maps of the world (the hemispheric map in two plates); 17 European maps; 6 Asian maps; 2 African maps; and 26 American maps, including many very rare early maps of states.
Rarity and Issues
All Fielding Lucas atlases are rare, however, this, his first atlas, is among the Holy Grails of American atlas collecting.
Lucas first announced his intentions to publish an atlas of about 6 maps in early-to-mid 1812. In September of 1812, he stated that "Specimens of part of the Maps of this NEW ATLAS, are now ready for inspection." The atlas is not mentioned again until December 1813, when all the engraving was presumed to have been complete. Lucas had bound copies of that first iteration of the atlas available in February of 1814, about two months before Carey's 1814 atlas was available.
The atlas developed over the following years and was issued in small numbers in variant configurations. One variant includes only the world, continental, and state maps (for a total of 31, see Rumsey 4534); the more complete issue (like the present one), includes European, Asian, and African maps as well, bringing the total to 54 (this example). Rumsey also has a Lucas atlas with a new title page, issued in 1822, which includes maps from the circa 1817 atlas and from the 1823.
RBH records only three examples of the atlas appearing on the market since 1989. Lucas's other major atlas, his General Atlas of 1823 - a great book in itself - is somewhat more common, and examples can currently be found on the market for between $21,000 and $27,000.
Signed "F.A. Tucker's Atlas" on front flyleaf;
Dr. Karl Kundert (owner of the Kundert Medical Clinic designed by Frank Lloyd Wright);
Thence by descent through the family
We wish to extend our thanks to Jay Lester and Ashley Baynton-Williams for their assistance in cataloging this atlas.
Fielding Lucas, Jr. (1781-1854) was a prominent American cartographer, engraver, artist, and public figure during the first half of the 19th century.
Lucas was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia and moved to Philadelphia as a teenager, before settling in Baltimore. There he launched a successful cartographic career. Lucas's first atlas was announced in early- to mid-1812, with production taking place between September 1812 and December of 1813, by which point the engravings were complete. Bound copies of the atlas -- A new and elegant general atlas: Containing maps of each of the United States -- were available early in the next year, beating Carey to market by about two months. Lucas later published A General Atlas Containing Distinct Maps Of all the known Countries in the World in the early 1820s.