Likely first edition of this striking promotional map advertising the routes of the Rock Island Railroad.
The map provides a fine template of the state of American Railroads in the middle of the 1880s and was clearly, at that point, being updated on an annual basis.
We track editions published in 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886, and 1889.
The map is rare on the market. OCLC locates 2 examples of the 1883, 1 example of the 1884, and 2 examples of the 1885 edition.
George F. Cram (1842-1928), or George Franklin Cram, was an American mapmaker and businessman. During the Civil War, Cram served under General William Tecumseh Sherman and participated in his March to the Sea. His letters of that time are now important sources for historians of the Civil War. In 1867, Cram and his uncle, Rufus Blanchard, began the company known by their names in Evanston, Illinois.
Two years later, Cram became sole proprietor and the company was henceforth known as George F. Cram Co. Specializing in atlases, Cram was one of the first American companies to publish a world atlas. One of their most famous products was the Unrivaled Atlas of the World, in print from the 1880s to the 1950s.
Cram died in 1928, seven years after he had merged the business with that of a customer, E.A. Peterson. The new company still bore Cram’s name. Four years later, the Cram Company began to make globes, a branch of the business that would continue until 2012, when the company ceased to operate. For the final several decades of the company’s existence it was controlled by the Douthit family, who sold it just before the company was shuttered.