One of the Rarest of the Early American Atlases -- In Lucas's Characteristic Very Attractive Hand-Color.
In an Elegant Contemporary American Binding.
Fielding Lucas Jr. was one of the most important American mapmakers in his day. Born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, he came to Baltimore in 1804 and partnered with Conrad, Lucas & Company in 1807. He established his own stationers shop and bookstore, making a specialty of fine color plate books and atlases. Lucas's first atlas was announced in early- to mid-1812, with the maps engraved by Henry S. Tanner after drawings by Samuel Lewis -- A New and Elegant General Atlas: Containing maps of each of the United States. Bound copies of that atlas were available in early 1814, beating Carey to market by about two months (and nearly causing the breakup of Lucas's business dealings with Carey). The atlas offered here, A General Atlas Containing Distinct Maps of all the Known Countries in the World, expands on Lucas's earlier map making, and stands as one of the finest general atlases produced in the United States at the time. The characteristic delicate hand-coloring on Lucas's maps adds greatly to the overall beauty of the atlas, a trait emphasized by both contemporary reviewers and modern-day authorities (see below).
Lucas's General Atlas is essentially four atlases in one; it begins with a historical atlas, then a world atlas, atlas of the United States, and ends with a very good section on the Caribbean and South America.
Especially important for its American maps, which number 59 - more than half of the total number of maps herein - the atlas includes a separate map of each of the 24 states in the United States at the time of publication, plus further maps of the U.S. Territories, 20 maps of the West Indies, a separate map of every major island, a map of Mexico, and five maps of South American countries. The atlas also includes seven maps of the ancient world (Rome, Greece, Palestine, Egypt).
David Rumsey has called this atlas,
the finest general atlas produced in the U.S. at that time ... The quality of the engraving … is superb, the detail is very fine, and the coloring is delicate and elegant.
In his study of the life and work of Fielding Lucas, Jr., James W. Foster described this atlas as:
...undoubtedly the Lucas masterpiece.
Lucas's General Atlas has often been overlooked by Americanists due to being classified as a world atlas, yet it is justly prized for its American maps. Besides a majority American content, the atlas is a thoroughly American production, with most of the maps, including nearly all of the American ones, having been drawn by Lucas himself and then engraved by American engravers. Most of the United States maps were engraved by B. T. Welch with other maps by Young & Delleker, J. V. N. Throop, Cone & Freeman and Kneass.
The maps are printed on a higher quality paper than contemporary maps by Carey & Lea and demonstrate a superior engraving quality and more attractive coloring style. The map of the United States (on a double-page) is quite detailed and indicates the locations of numerous western Native American tribes, including Pawnees, Black Foot, Osages, Shiennes (i.e. Cheyennes), and Chippeways. The map of North America indicates the location of Northwestern fur trading center of Fort Astoria, located at the mouth of the Columbia River. The area of the Great Salt Lake has a "doubtful" (so labeled on the map) "Lake Trinpanogos" - this lake is called "Lake Timpanogos" on the United States map. The North America map mentions Shoshones or Snake Indians, Flatheads and Blackfoots, Sioux, and others. In present-day Canada (here Upper and Lower Canada and Rupert's Land) additional tribes are noted: Assineboines, Cree, and Nena Wewhook Indians.
Many of the individual state and territory maps also indicate locations of Native American tribes: Grand Kickapoos Village (Illinois); Chickasaws and Choctaws (Mississippi); Kickapoos and Delaware Indians (Indiana); Cherokees (Arkansas Territory); and Winnebagoes and Menomonies (Minnesota).
The map of Missouri shows short-lived Lillard County in the western part of the state; formed in 1821 from New Madrid County it was abolished in 1825.
The map of Arkansas Territory is worth mentioning as one of the few maps to show the territory in this configuration, including lands north of the Red River now part of Oklahoma. Reduction Acts of 1824 and 1828 reduced the size of Arkansas Territory, establishing the familiar boundaries of the future state.
The Florida map is particularly attractive and notable. This map shows Florida retaining the division of East and West Florida, even though the United States had recently combined the two when Florida was officially designated a Territory in 1822. Florida is shown as comprising only four vast counties: Escambia, Jackson, Duval, and St. Johns. A long "Indian path across the Country" is shown between Micanopy (originally the village of Wanton, and the site of the first Jewish communal settlement in the United States, co-founded by Moses Elias Levy in 1822) south and east to the Atlantic Ocean to the approximate location of present-day West Palm Beach. Key West is named, as are some of other islands in the Keys: New Castle and Pine Islands. Present-day Miami is designated Cape Florida and most of the southern tip of the Territory is taken up with the "Inundated Region called the Everglades."
Each map in the atlas includes a grid of parallels and meridians, nearly all include scales and sometimes a compass rose.
The atlas is in a fine contemporary American binding of elaborately decorated red sheepskin, almost certainly done in Baltimore, and quite possibly commissioned by Fielding Lucas, Jr. himself, or by the customer who first purchased this atlas.
A copy of Lucas' Progressive Drawing Book (Baltimore, 1827) recently sold at the Reese sale at Christie's, also in a contemporary binding, incorporates some identical gilt scroll tooling as found on the binding edges of the present atlas. The binder's title stamped on the spine (Lucas's Cabinet Atlas) is the same title used by Jared Sparks in his contemporary review of the atlas, which appeared in the North American Review (April 1824):
Mr. Lucas's Cabinet Atlas ... contains a series of maps embracing the whole surface of the globe, constructed in a form and brought into a compass suitable for constant reference and use. ...Of North America, including Canada, the United States, and Mexico there are thirty-one maps. All of these, except two or three, were drawn by Mr. Lucas, and many of them, especially those of the new states and the territories, manifest much research and diligence in procuring materials, as well as judgment in selecting and using them... if we were to select a single atlas, in which our purpose would be to obtain the greatest amount of matter within the smallest space, presented in a commodious form ... we should not hesitate to choose this in preference to any we have seen... It has another commendable trait also, which ought not to be slightly passed over; we mean the uncommon beauty and elegance of the mechanical execution. This characteristic prevails in all Mr. Lucas's maps ... Indeed, for neatness in the drawing, for the finished execution of the artist, and the exquisite beauty of coloring, no maps have come under our eye, either from abroad or among those published in this country, which can claim precedence to several specimens contained in Mr. Lucas's Atlas.
Typefaces and Lettering
The fine engraved lettering and typefaces on the maps contribute to their overall aesthetic impact. The handsome title-page is signed by Joseph Perkins (1788–1842), a New Hampshire native known for his engraving work on bank notes. From 1814 to 1826 Perkins worked in Philadelphia, where he was responsible for most of the lettering, drawing, and engraving for Tanner’s New American Atlas (1823). Although he signed only the lettering of the title-page of Lucas's General Atlas, he may have undertaken some of the unsigned lettering on individual map titles. Many of these are decorated roman capitals. Especially notable is the lettering for the inset map of Baltimore which is in a very early and neat American example of decorated sans-serif capitals. At the time of this atlas, such sans-serif typefaces were extremely rare. William Caslon IV introduced the first sans-serif printing type, capitals only, in London in c.1816, but his single size remained unique until the Figgins foundry introduced the first in what was to become a very popular style in 1828, primarily used for attention-grabbing headlines or advertising. It is thus especially curious to discover a sans-serif typeface being used in America in 1823: yet another example of Lucas's attention to detail.
Lucas's maps are highly desirable and increasingly scarce. Fine examples of this, his best atlas, with many sought-after maps, are increasingly hard to find in the market.
The atlas includes the following maps:
- Comparative Height of the Principal Mountains... in the World.
- Comparative Height of Mountains &c. [uncolored plate]
- Comparative Lengths of the Principal Rivers throughout the World
- Orbis Veteribus Notus.
- Orbis Romani Pars Occidentalis.
- Orbis Romani Pars Orientalis.
- Graecia Antiqua
- Alexandri Magni Itinera
- Aegyptus Antiqua
- Western Hemisphere [and] Eastern Hemisphere [double-page]
- Mercator's Chart [double-page]
- England and Wales
- Sweden and Norway
- Russian Empire
- Hungary, and Transylvania
- Spain and Portugal
- Turkey in Europe
- Azore Ids.
- Turkey in Asia
- Africa [with inset of Azores, Canaries and Cape Verde Islands]
- Madeira Ids
- Canary Ids.
- Cape Verd Ids.
- North America
- United States [double-page]
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- New York [double-page]
- New Jersey
- Pennsylvania [double-page]
- Maryland [with large inset:] City of Baltimore [double-page]
- Virginia [double-page]
- Nth. Carolina [double-page]
- Sth. Carolina
- Kentucky [double-page]
- Tennessee [double-page]
- Louisiana [double-page]
- Arkansas Ter.
- Michigan Ter.
- West Indies
- Cuba [double-page]
- Hayti or Saint Domingo [double-page]
- Porto Rico
- Virgin Islands &c.
- St. Christophers
- Guadaloupe &c.
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent
- South America
- United Provinces
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.