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Stock# 99149

An indispensable American atlas, representing the beginning of the hand-colored commercial atlas business in the United States. Includes Stephen H. Long's seminal map of the American West.

Rare Full Calf Binding

Unusually clean and bright throughout. A truly handsome example of the first edition of Carey and Lea's atlas of the Americas.

While earlier hand-colored atlases had been issued in the United States (for instance by Fielding Lucas Jr., who also drew maps for the present volume), Carey and Lea's was by far the most popular and important of what Foster referred to as the first American war of atlases. The book substantially popularized the Lavoisine format that would be widely copied thereafter, in the atlases of Buchon in France, Weiland in Germany, and Garcia Cubas in Mexico.

The most important cartographic contribution of the Carey and Lea atlas is the inclusion of the Long Map of the American Plains. Wheat (II, page 81) says of it:

Carey and Lea's Atlas of 1822 carried a 'North America' on which, along with Pike's vagaries, is displayed Long's discovery of the true course of the Canadian, while Missouri Territory is carried west of the Rockies. The most interesting map in this Atlas, however, is headed 'Geographical, Statistical and Historical Map of Arkansas Territory,' which is in reality Long's map, covering the Missouri Basin north to Mandan villages and west to the Rockies. 'Highest Peak,' James Peak and Spanish Peaks appear, as on [Stephen H.] Long's manuscript map, and his expedition's routes are set forth. Just south of the Republican Fork appears the significant legend, 'The Great Desert is frequented by roving bands of Indians who have no fixed places of residence but road from place to place in quest of game.' In fact, in large part this map is Long's map, and is so stated in its title.
Condition Description
Folio. Contemporary mottled calf, edges ruled with gilt and blind roll tools; spine in six compartments, separated by gilt tools featuring an acorn motif, with "AMERICAN ATLAS" gilt-lettered in the second. (Some minor scrapes to the spine.) Letterpress title; 1 page advertisement; 1 page table of contents; 46 double-page engraved maps all in original hand-color; one uncolored double-page engraved plate of principal mountains throughout the world; one hand-colored double-page engraved table showing the comparative lengths of the principal rivers throughout the world; all mounted on guards. (Complete.) Some maps with splitting at bottom centerfold, the most major of which is at 42, 44, 46, 47, and 52. Torn corner at appendix of 42. (Front and rear pastedowns and blanks moderately foxed and creased.)
Henry Charles Carey Biography

Henry Charles Carey (1793-1879) was an American geography publisher and businessman. He was the son of Mathew Carey and carried on the family publishing company in partnership with his brother-in-law, Isaac Lea. Henry worked in his father’s business from a young age. At twelve, he managed a store selling his father’s publications. At fifteen, he was the firm’s financial manager. In 1817, he became a junior partner, which changed the company’s name to Carey & Son.

In 1822, Mathew Carey brought in a new junior partner, Isaac Lea, who had married Henry’s sister, Frances Anne. In the same year, Mathew Carey left the business, with Henry buying out his father’s share. His younger brother briefly joined the business, but left by 1829, when the firm was named Carey & Lea. William A. Blanchard joined the firm in 1833, causing another name change to Carey, Lea & Blanchard. Henry retired in 1835, leaving the firm as Lea & Blanchard.

Henry had outside interests, including political economy. He published Principles of Political Economy in 1837. He also wrote Past, Present, and Future (1848), Principles of Social Science (1858-1860), and The Unity of Law (1872). In the 1850s, he was very active in organizing the nascent Republican Party. He died in 1879.

Isaac Lea Biography

Isaac Lea (1792-1886) was an American publisher and geologist. Raised a Quaker in Delaware, he turned away from pacifist teachings and joined the militia in the War of 1812. After marrying Frances Anne, the daughter of publishing magnate Mathew Carey, Lea became a junior partner of Carey & Son in 1822. Mathew Carey left the firm in the same year and Isaac Lea worked primarily with his brother-in-law, Henry Charles Carey.

The pair conducted business as Carey & Lea, during which time they published A Complete Historical, Chronological and Geographical Atlas from 1822 to 1827. This work included roughly twenty maps engraved by Fielding Lucas Jr., as well as an American edition of Starling’s Cabinet Atlas. However, the firm increasingly turned away from cartographic publications.

By 1829, after the brief participation of Edward Carey, Henry’s younger brother, the company became known as Carey & Lea. William A. Blanchard joined the firm in 1833, causing another name change to Carey, Lea & Blanchard. Henry retired in 1838, leaving the firm as Lea & Blanchard.

Isaac Lea was not just a publisher, but an avid researcher with aptitude for geology. He was a member of the American Academy of Natural Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He retired from publishing in 1851 and turned increasingly to geological research, results of which he published until his death in 1886.