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Stock# 69309

Scarce 1850 Mitchell Atlas with Map of the State of California

Updated United States Map: Showing California Gold Regions & Unusual Territorial Configurations

A notable edition of Mitchell's New Universal Atlas, issued in 1850, an important year in the history of United States territorial expansion. Includes a map of the freshly minted state of California: Map of the State of California, the Territories of Oregon & Utah and the chief part of New Mexico.  Despite being an atlas of the world, most of the atlas is concerned with the United States. The atlas includes important early maps of Texas, and the American West, as well as many beautiful maps of individual states and an interesting updated map of the United States by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. 

The titepage of the atlas, which has a handsome engraved vignette depicting Columbus's first landing in the New World, is dated 1850.  Our atlas conforms largely to Phillips 805 (dated 1851), having the two added maps (no. 36 Map of Minnesota and no. 37 Map of the State of California...) and with map no. 74 as frontispiece. This would suggest that the present atlas is a transitional edition, issued in late 1850, as the typical 1850 edition (described by Phillips 800) has only 72 maps (no California as a State or Minnesota).  

Notable maps:

A New Map of the United States of America.

Fascinating example of Thomas, Cowperthwait & Company's map of the United States, showing some of the most unusual early Territorial configurations.

Oregon Territory still runs from California to Canada and the Rocky Mountains, immediately prior to creation of Washington Territory. Large New Mexico and Utah Territories appear for the first time, having just been established as territories in 1850. A strange notch incorporates Middle Park in Colorado into Utah. Massive Missouri or Northwest Territory predates Nebraska Territory and Indian Territory is in its largest and must unusual configuration.

Texas is filled with early roads, including Road from Ft. Smith to Dona Ana made by General Arbuckle. The Great Spanish Trail to Salt Lake is shown, as is Fremont's route. Lewis & Clark's route is noted. Many Indian tribes and early western forts. Large inset map (4 7/16 x 6 inches) of the Gold Region of California, which includes the legend San Joaquin Plains on lands where the Yosemite Valley was soon to be discovered. The Great Basin is labeled "Fremont Basin" and Crescent City is shown on the "Towalumnes River."

Map of the State of California, the Territories of Oregon & Utah and the chief part of New Mexico.

Map shows California as a state, despite the 1845 copyright notice in lower margin. Other interesting aspects of the map: the counties in Oregon, Utah and New Mexico have yet to be delineated. Also, the border with Mexico is in its pre-Treaty of Mesilla configuration, before the Gadsden Purchase, which took effect on June 8, 1854.

Map of Texas from the Most Recent Authorities. 

A version of Thomas, Cowperthwait's Map of Texas. This excellent map of Texas was issued soon after the conclusion of the Mexican-American War.  The map shows all of Texas, with the northern tip in an inset in the lower left corner. The map depicts topographical information with clear precision, including towns, rivers, roads, and the site of the Battle of San Jacinto (1836). The map shows a number of oversized Texas counties, including Robertson and Milam, extending from central Texas northwestward to the Red River; San Patricio, extending from the Nueces to the Rio Grande; and Bexar, comprising not only the present county of that name but lands to the southwest and west along the Rio Grande and northwards into the present panhandle. All the important sites from the Texas Revolution are noted on the map. There are many early settlements and towns not often shown on early maps, such as Orozimbo, Bolivar, Qintana, and Liverpool in Brazoria County, as well as De Kalb, Boston, Daingerfield, Smithland, Pulaski, Teran, Belgrade, Salem, Zavala, and Aurora in far east Texas, to mention only a few. The map denotes Comanche and Apache lands and also repeats the Le Grand description of fertile, well-wooded lands in the Llano Estacado noted on Arrowsmith's map of 1841. The inset at lower left shows northern Texas extending to Santa Fe and into present Colorado. A note in the northwest part of that county states: "This tract of Country as far as North Canadian Fork was explored by Le Grand in 1833, it is naturally fertile, well wooded, and with a fair proportion of water." Also of note are the early roads shown in the state as well as indications of the locations of Indian tribes. The map was originally engraved by C.S. Williams and was included in the last edition of Tanner's Universal Atlas in 1845. Following his acquisition of the work in 1846, Samuel Augustus Mitchell kept the map relatively unchanged from 1846 to 1849, when he sold the rights to the atlas to Thomas, Cowperthwait & Company who re-issued the map in a different format shortly thereafter.  A decorative guilloche-pattern border typical of maps published by Tanner, Mitchell, and Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. surrounds the entire composition.

A list of the maps:

  1. World on a Globular Projection
  2. North America
  3. Lower Canada
  4. Upper Canada
  5. United States
  6. Maine
  7. New Hampshire and Vermont
  8. Massachusetts and Rhode Island
  9. Connecticut
  10. New York
  11. New York City
  12. New Jersey
  13. Pennsylvania
  14. Philadelphia 
  15. Maryland and Delaware
  16. City of Washington
  17. Virginia
  18. North Carolina
  19. South Carolina
  20. Georgia
  21. Florida
  22. Alabama
  23. Mississippi
  24. Louisiana
  25. Texas
  26. Arkansas
  27. Tennessee
  28. Kentucky
  29. Ohio
  30. Michigan
  31. Indiana
  32. Illinois
  33. Missouri
  34. Wisconsin
  35. Iowa
  36. Minnesota
  37. California, Oregon, Utah, and part of New Mexico
  38. Mexico and Guatemala
  39. West Indies
  40. South America
  41. Venezuela, New Granada & Ecuador
  42. Brazil and Paraguay
  43. Peru and Bolivia
  44. Chili, La Plata, and Uruguay
  45. Europe
  46. England 
  47. Scotland
  48. Ireland
  49. France
  50. Spain and Portugal
  51. Holland and Belgium
  52. Germany
  53. Austria
  54. Prussia
  55. Russia in Europe
  56. Sweden and Norway
  57. Denmark
  58. Switzerland
  59. Italy (northern part) 
  60. Sardinia
  61. Naples or the Two Sicilies
  62. Turkey in Europe
  63. Greece
  64. Asia
  65. Russia in Asia
  66. Turkey in Asia
  67. Palestine
  68. Persia, Arabia, Cabul & Beloochistan
  69. Hindoostan or British India
  70. China
  71. Africa
  72. Egypt
  73. Oceana, or Pacific Ocean
  74. Heights of Mountains and Lengths of Rivers (bound in facing title page)
Condition Description
Folio. Titlepage with tanning along fore-edge margin, with some edge chipping. [Title page, with engraved vignette depicting "First Landing of Columbus in the New World"], [Table of Contents, printed in red], 74 maps exhibiting nice original hand color. Vertical crease through titlepage, which is also a bit soiled in fore-edge marginal area. Ownership inscription on titlepage: "Godeffroy [Lillen?] & Co. 1851 September 3d." Endpaper soiled and crease. Maps generally clean and very nice.
Wheat, Gold Regions, 167. cf. Phillips, List of Geographical Atlases, 805 (1851 ed.)
Samuel Augustus Mitchell Biography

For over fifty years, Samuel Augustus Mitchell, his son, and his successors some of the most prominent publishers of maps and atlases in the United States. Samuel Augustus Mitchell Sr. was born in Bristol, Connecticut on March 20, 1792. His father had emigrated from Scotland in 1773. While little is known about his early schooling, it is known that Mitchell found the quality of early geography text books to be lacking, and determined that he would write and publish better works. This decision led him to relocate to Philadelphia in 1829 or 1830, which was then the center of commercial publishing in America.

Mitchell’s first cartographic work was the re-issue of Anthony Finley’s New American Atlas in 1831, a work first issued by Finley in 1826, in response to Henry Schenk Tanner’s monumental work of the same title, issued in serial format from 1818 to 1822 and as a complete work from 1823 onward. While the map content in Mitchell’s edition of the New American Atlas is the same as Finley’s edition, each map has been significantly improved and revised, primarily with the addition of new towns and roads. This is especially true in the south and west. Finley had originally collaborated with D.H. Vance and J.H. Young in the preparation of the maps, although Vance’s name is removed from the Mitchell edition. Mitchell continued to work with Young, an association which would continue for several decades.

Following publication of the New American Atlas, Mitchell began issuing the individual maps in pocket map format. From 1834, Mitchell began offering reduced sized Tourist Pocket Maps of a number of states in the United States. J.H. Young and D. Haines are listed as the engravers on these maps. In 1832, Mitchell offered the first edition of his Travellers Guide Through the United States, A Map of the Roads, Distances, Steam Boat & Canal Routes &c. By J.H. Young . . ., which would become one of his most popular and enduring works. The map of the United States was done by steel engraving, one of the earliest uses of the technique in map publishing in America. In the same year, the first edition of Mitchell’s Map of the United States, by J.H. Young was issued, bearing the copyright date of October 10, 1831. This map would be revised and issued until 1844. Young also compiled A New Map of the United States in 1833. These two wall maps would come to dominate the market and their success led to several later US wall maps issued by Mitchell. This second map was also issued under the title of Mitchell’s Reference and Distance Map of the United States, which was printed until 1851. 

Mitchell was neither a cartographer nor an engraver. His primary function was as the editor and business manager of his publishing company, with Young working as the primary maker of maps. Beginning in 1839, Mitchell also began publication of his school atlas. This work and variant editions for older and younger students, was issued by Mitchell and his successors from 1839 to 1886. In 1845, Mitchell acquired the rights to Henry Schenk Tanner’s New Universal Atlas from Carey & Hart, which had previously acquired the copyright from Tanner and had published editions of 1843 and 1844. Mitchell changed many of the maps and issued two editions of the atlas in 1846. He changed the copperplates to lithography, utilizing Peter S. Duval in Philadelphia to produce the stones. Mitchell re-issued the atlas at least annually until 1850, when he sold the rights to the work to Thomas, Cowperthwait & Company. 

In 1860, Mitchell’s son, Samuel Augustus Mitchell Jr. began issuing Mitchell’s New General Atlas. While his father had continued to issue wall maps and other works, this appears to be his son’s first entry into the trade. The New General Atlas was issued by SA Mitchell Jr. until 1887. From 1880 to 1887, Bradley & Company also published the atlas. Various other minor publishers, including A.R. Keller, produced editions as late as 1894. The elder Mitchell died in 1868. Samuel Jr. continued the business until the 1890s. At its height, the Mitchell Company employed 250 people and sold 400,000 publications annually.