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George Woolworth Colton: Map of the United States of America, the British Provinces, Mexico and the West Indies

Map: USA9223
Cartographer: George Woolworth Colton
Title: Map of the United States of America, the British Provinces, Mexico and the West Indies
Date: c. 1868
Published: New York
Width: 45 inches / 115 cm
Height: 38 inches / 97 cm
Map ref: USA9223
Later variant of Colton’s wall map of the United States. Including Central America down to Costa Rica, Mexico, the West Indies and Canada. Folding map. (SL)

The title of this map is generic to the celebrated series of wall maps of the United States issued by the firm of J.H. Colton between 1846 and 1884. This series is an invaluable tool in tracing the natural, political, economic and ethnological development of the country, with particular emphasis on the American West. Thanks to cartographic scholars, a great deal of work has been done in tracing the multiple editions and developments on this map; this has resulted in references to multiple editions, with not only revisions and updates in the geographical details but also presence or absence of large vignettes, changes to the style of decorative borders and inclusion or absence of insets. The title, whilst retaining its wording also changes placement on multiple occasions.

This edition is in the new format first introduced in 1868. It has been reduced and is now without the flamboyant borders and elaborate steel engraved vignettes. As with previous editions though, the geographical updates have been punctiliously added, including the addition of the Territories of Montana and Dakota, although without the partition of the latter. The title has now been placed on the lower left. J.H. Colton’s name no longer appears on the imprint, instead being replaced with the imprint of his sons, G.W (George Woolworth) and C.B. (Charles B.) Colton. Curiously, this example of the map is undated but shows several important railway routes as broken lines, including the southern Pacific, the northern Pacific and the Atlantic Pacific Railroad. This usually notes that the routes are projected but not yet completed. We have been able to trace one illustrated example of the map with the date of 1868 but with these railway routes now solid. The G.W. & C.B. Colton at 172 William St. New York, imprint began to appear c. 1865 on other maps by the firm, suggesting this example of the map was issued between these dates. It is difficult to speculate but it may have been an undated, very early issue of the 1868 edition of the map before the railway lines were updated and printed in very small numbers to test the market. Its format, segmented and backed on linen, is also very unusual. All the examples of this later version of the map we have been able to trace are on paper and folded into a wallet.

Segmented folding map on linen. Original hand colour. SL [USA9223]