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American Railroad Maps

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Henry S. Tanner. A Description of the Canals and Rail Roads of the United States, comprehending Notices of all the Works of Internal Improvement Throughout the Several States. New York, London, and Paris: Tanner & Disturnell, Wiley & Putnam, A. Bertrand, 1840. Small quarto. Frontispiece map, [i]-viii, 9-272, [i]-iv. Plus two additional maps. Lacking two folding diagrams called for by Sabin. Original cloth covers, with some waviness, gold stamping on front; rebacked and with added title.. Early ownership ink stamp on front and back pastedowns. Interior excellent. Ref.: Sabin: 94316; Howes: T-26.

With the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, the United States entered a period of rapid building, first of an extensive canal network and later an even larger railroad network. This led to a demand for works giving practical information on this growing transportation nexus. Henry S. Tanner, an important American map engraver and publisher, met this demand in 1834 with his A Brief Description of the Canals and Rail Roads of the United States. With the continued growth of canals and rails, Tanner issued an expanded, no longer "Brief," work on the same topic in 1840. In 1840 canals were still being planned and constructed, but the rapid improvements in the technology of tracks and steam meant the momentum was clearly in favor of the railroads. By 1840 there were 2,816 miles of railroads in the United States compared with 1,331 miles in England.

The text of this book is filled with the popular phrases lauding "internal improvements" that were promoted by the U.S. Government and financed through the sale of public lands and training of engineers in the military academies. A general description of the nation is followed by chapters on each state as well as Canada. A glossary of terms and index follows. This book was designed to interest the foreign investor as well as the domestic traveler or merchant. This work came out in a number of versions, of which this is the best, bound into a slightly larger format and including two extra maps, besides the standard map of the United States folded into the front.

Frontis map. "Map of the Canals & Railroads of the United States. Reduced from the large Map of the U.S. by H. S. Tanner." Engraving by J. Knight. 17 1/4 x 23. Insets of "South Part of Florida" and profiles of Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, Dismal Swamp Canal, Welland Canal, and Lehigh Navigation." State boundaries are shown with Missouri and Arkansas as the newest and westernmost states. Actual and proposed canals and railroads are outlined. Facing page 80. "A New Map of New York." Insets: "Profile of the Erie Canal" and steamboat routes. 10 1/2 x 12. Facing page 144. "A New Map of Pennsylvania with its Canals, Rail-Roads & Distances from Place to Place along the Stage Routes." Engraving by W. Brose, Philadelphia. Insets: "Profile of the Pennsylvania Canal and Columbia Railroad" and steamboat routes. 10 1/2 x 12 1/2. $1,250

Henry S. Tanner. A Description of the Canals and Rail Roads of the United States, comprehending Notices of all the Works of Internal Improvement Throughout the Several States. New York: Tanner & Disturnell, 1840. Octavo. Frontispiece map, [i]-viii, 9-273. Plus two folding diagrams. Original embossed blue-green cloth with gold-stamped spine title. With some light water staining. With some water stains and foxing in interior, but still overall good. Ref.: Sabin: 94316; Howes: T-26.

Another version of Tanner's Description of the Canals and Rail Roads of the United States issued in 1840. This version is on slightly smaller paper. It includes two profile diagrams of major canals and railroads, but lacks the two folding maps that appeared in the larger version (cf. above). $950

James T. Lloyd. "Lloyd's New Map of the United States The Canada and New Brunswick . . . Showing Every Railroad & Station Finished to June 1863, and the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts From the United States Superintendent's Official Report of the Coast Survey by order of Congress." [Inset of South Florida]. New York: J.T. Lloyd, 1863. Lithograph (hand colored). 36 1/4 x 49 1/2 (neat lines) plus margins. A key provides symbols for: railroads completed, turnpikes and wagon roads, state capitals, cities and towns, and village post offices. Two shipping agents and their routes are drawn out of New York City, but nowhere else. A wall map with original molding and spindle. Conserved with new linen backing. Some age browning, but as very good as they get.

The map shows from the entire East Coast to the Great Plains. In the West two thirds of Texas is shown and platted while Nebraska and Kansas are platted along their eastern borders, and Indian Territory (future Oklahoma) and "Dacotah" have no platting shown. From eastern Maine to the 94th Meridian (i.e. the western edges of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana) are completely platted. Throughout the United States the counties are colored, towns and cities labeled, and roads and railroads drawn with distances noted between points. In order not to recognize the legitimacy of the Confederate States of America, each is shown in the same manner as the Northern or Union states. The only indication that the American Civil War was in progress is a printed notice that Gideon Wells, Secretary of the Navy, has ordered this map and wishes to acquire a quote on lots of 100 maps of the Mississippi River for use by "the squadron."

The map legend contains some interesting statements about the map trade of the times. The publisher claims to show "every man's house from St. Louis to New Orleans--an impossible accomplishment which he fails to do. J.T. Lloyd also warns his public not to purchase wood engraved maps by another Lloyd who is copying his and making errors, for instance, confusing Corinth, Mississippi by naming it Farmington. J.T. Lloyd had publishing centers in both New York and London and was a prolific printer of maps depicting many countries. $1,400

Anderson 1870 NJ wall map
J.A. Anderson. "Map of the Rail Roads of New Jersey, and parts of Adjoining States. 1870." Copyrighted in New Jersey in 1869 [1870] by J.A. Anderson. Printed by "Jas. McGuigan, Lith. Philada." 21 1/2 x 16 (full sheet). Original light varnish rubbed. Backed on original linen. A few short tears. Tacked to the original antique top moulding and bottom spindle. Full margins. A lovely small wall map in its original format. Ref.: Phillips, MAPS, p. 491.

This fascinating, separately issued map focuses almost exclusively on the railroads of New Jersey by naming and drawing the lines with the names of stations with distances between these stations expressed in "miles and tenths." No wagon roads are designated and only major waterways are drawn. All of New Jersey is shown with large areas of northern Delaware, Eastern Pennsylvania and New York along the Hudson River.

At the bottom margin and to the left of the title area is a small merchant's label reading "Sheble, Smith & Co. / Successors to R. L. Barnes, / Map Publishers, 27 S. 6th. Sth., [sic.] Phila." Measuring a petite 1" x 1 1/2". A charming wall map. $850

G.W. & C.B. Colton. "Map Showing the Line of the Norfolk and Western and Shenandoah Valley Railroads and the Connection with the Virginia, Tennessee & Georgia Air Line." New York: G.W. & C.B. Colton & Co., 1881. 19 x 25 1/2. Lithograph. Original highlight color. Excellent condition. Folded into First Annual Report of the President and Directors of the Norfolk & Western Railroad Company. Philadelphia, 1882. Octavo. Paper covers. 51 pp. Excellent condition.

A map of the railroad lines in the American southeast produced by one of the most important map publishers of the second half of the nineteenth century, the Colton firm out of New York. This firm, which went through a number of different manifestations, issued both atlas maps and attractive folding maps such as this one. This map was issued to accompany the first annual report, for 1881, of the Norfolk & Western Railroad Company. The map is folded into the back of the pamphlet, and its copious detail of the railroad systems in the American southeast would have provided excellent illumination for the annual report. Detail is given of rivers and towns from Massachusetts to Iowa and from Florida to Louisiana. All the myriad railroads in this region are also shown, which those of the "Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia Air Line" highlighted in color. This railroad system was comprised of the Norfolk and Western, Shenandoah Valley, East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia railroad systems. Ship connections from these lines to Baltimore, New York and Boston are also indicated. Scarce and of considerable historic note, this is a fine document of the American southeast from about a century ago. $650

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