One of the Rarest of the Early United States Atlases -- Presented In A Rare Rolled Format
Fine example of this virtually unknown Fielding Lucas United States Atlas, one of the first atlases of the United States and the only atlas published in America of which we are aware to have been configured in a cylindrical scroll format and stored in a leather tube.
Lucas's work is a fascinating innovation, one which is seemingly unique among American book publishers. 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).
Beginning in 1823, Lucas offered a new atlas, his General Atlas Containing Distinct Maps Of all the known Countries in the World . . . For this atlas, he ultimately created 100 maps and two additional plates. As a part of this project, Lucas also seems to have issued a smaller United States Atlas, which was only available in a portable rolled format.
The atlas offered here, Lucas's United States Atlas, may well have been issued before all of the plates for his General Atlas had been completed. The original tube is in red leather with gold tooled titling, with Maps vary in size, a total of 37 maps with no title or index page, but including 2 charts (mountains and rivers). The maps were printed on thinner paper than usually found in Lucas' bound atlases. This paper is normally seen with his separately issued pocket maps. 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).
David Rumsey has called Lucas's larger 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 United States Atlas is extremely rare and was largely unknown to Americanists due to its rarity.
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 maps are attached to a hand crafted rod, which was stored rolled in a red leather tube, with the title in gilt. This is, to our knowledge the only atlas of the United States published in this format. In fact, we are not aware of any other rolled atlases in this innovative manner..
All Lucas atlases are rare, but this one in particular is virtually unobtainable.
Unknown to Phillips, Sabin, etc. OCLC locates 3 examples (Library of Congress, Boston Public Library and Osher Library--University of Southern Maine).
The atlas includes the following maps and plates:
- Comparative Height of the Principal Mountains... in the World.
- Comparative Lengths of the Principal Rivers throughout the World
- 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.
- 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.