Samuel Augustus Mitchell

Samuel Augustus Mitchell

For over fifty years, Samuel Augustus Mitchell, his son, and his successors some of the most prominent publishers of maps and atlases in the United States. Samuel Augustus Mitchell Sr. was born in Bristol, Connecticut on March 20, 1792. His father had emigrated from Scotland in 1773. While little is known about his early schooling, it is known that Mitchell found the quality of early geography text books to be lacking, and determined that he would write and publish better works. This decision led him to relocate to Philadelphia in 1829 or 1830, which was then the center of commercial publishing in America.

Mitchell’s first cartographic work was the re-issue of Anthony Finley’s New American Atlas in 1831, a work first issued by Finley in 1826, in response to Henry Schenk Tanner’s monumental work of the same title, issued in serial format from 1818 to 1822 and as a complete work from 1823 onward. While the map content in Mitchell’s edition of the New American Atlas is the same as Finley’s edition, each map has been significantly improved and revised, primarily with the addition of new towns and roads. This is especially true in the south and west. Finley had originally collaborated with D.H. Vance and J.H. Young in the preparation of the maps, although Vance’s name is removed from the Mitchell edition. Mitchell continued to work with Young, an association which would continue for several decades.

Following publication of the New American Atlas, Mitchell began issuing the individual maps in pocket map format. From 1834, Mitchell began offering reduced sized Tourist Pocket Maps of a number of states in the United States. J.H. Young and D. Haines are listed as the engravers on these maps. In 1832, Mitchell offered the first edition of his Travellers Guide Through the United States, A Map of the Roads, Distances, Steam Boat & Canal Routes &c. By J.H. Young . . ., which would become one of his most popular and enduring works. The map of the United States was done by steel engraving, one of the earliest uses of the technique in map publishing in America. In the same year, the first edition of Mitchell’s Map of the United States, by J.H. Young was issued, bearing the copyright date of October 10, 1831. This map would be revised and issued until 1844. Young also compiled A New Map of the United States in 1833. These two wall maps would come to dominate the market and their success led to several later US wall maps issued by Mitchell. This second map was also issued under the title of Mitchell’s Reference and Distance Map of the United States, which was printed until 1851.

Mitchell was neither a cartographer nor an engraver. His primary function was as the editor and business manager of his publishing company, with Young working as the primary maker of maps. Beginning in 1839, Mitchell also began publication of his school atlas. This work and variant editions for older and younger students, was issued by Mitchell and his successors from 1839 to 1886. In 1845, Mitchell acquired the rights to Henry Schenk Tanner’s New Universal Atlas from Carey & Hart, which had previously acquired the copyright from Tanner and had published editions of 1843 and 1844. Mitchell changed many of the maps and issued two editions of the atlas in 1846. He changed the copperplates to lithography, utilizing Peter S. Duval in Philadelphia to produce the stones. Mitchell re-issued the atlas at least annually until 1850, when he sold the rights to the work to Thomas, Cowperthwait & Company.

In 1860, Mitchell’s son, Samuel Augustus Mitchell Jr. began issuing Mitchell’s New General Atlas. While his father had continued to issue wall maps and other works, this appears to be his son’s first entry into the trade. The New General Atlas was issued by SA Mitchell Jr. until 1887. From 1880 to 1887, Bradley & Company also published the atlas. Various other minor publishers, including A.R. Keller, produced editions as late as 1894. The elder Mitchell died in 1868. Samuel Jr. continued the business until the 1890s. At its height, the Mitchell Company employed 250 people and sold 400,000 publications annually.


1855 - A New Universal Atlas Containing Maps of the various Empires, Kingdoms, States and Republics of the World With a special Map of each of the United States, plans of Cities, &c. Comprehended in seventy five sheets, and forming a series of One Hundred and Tw

  • $24.99

A handsome example of the 1855 Samuel August Mitchell New Universal Atlas, an important edition from one of the quintessential American atlas series of the 19th century. Despite being an atlas of the world, most of the atlas is concerned with the...


1846 - A New Map of the World on the Globular Projection … 1847

  • $9.99

Attractive double hemisphere map of the world with decorative borders. Attractive example with wide margins. The Antarctic regions are just now being discovered. Includes the routes of Captain Cook, Captain Gore and the United States Exploring Expedition.


1846 - United States

  • $9.99

Fine example of Mitchell's scarce 1846 map of the US, including massive and curiously colored Wisconsin and oddly shaped Michigan. Shows towns, roads, rivers, lakes, forts, etc. Nice ephemeral treatment of the Northwest, immediately before the...


1846 - Mitchell's National Map of the American Republic or United States Of North America . . . 1846

  • $21.99

Including Unusual Territorial Representations of Iowa and Wisconsin / New State of Texas / Upper California Good example of Mitchell's most popular map of the United States of the period. The map extends west to Texas, Indian Territory and a...


1858 - Mitchell's New National Map, Exhibiting The United States with the North American British Provinces, Sandwich Islands, Mexico and Central America, Together with Cuba and the other West India Islands . . . 1858

  • $14.99

Fine Example of Mitchell's National Map of the United States Fine wall map of the United States, illustrating the transitional western Territorial and State borders, published by S A Mitchell in 1858. First published in 1856, Mitchell's remarkable...


1846 - Connecticut

  • $14.99

Detailed map of Connecticut from Mitchell's New Universal Atlas, showing early railroads, townships, canals, etc. Hand colored by county. Insets of Hartford and New Haven. Statistical Table shows county populations. Mitchell's pre-1850 maps are...


1847 - A New Map of Maine . . . 1847

  • $14.99

Detailed map of Maine from Mitchell's New Universal Atlas, showing early railroads, townships, canals, etc. The map is hand colored by counties, and includes statistical table showing county populations. One of the most detailed of all atlas maps of...


1847 - Massachusetts and Rhode Island (with Boston inset)

  • $14.99

Detailed map of Massachusetts and Rhode Island from Mitchell's New Universal Atlas, showing railroads, townships, canals, etc. Hand colored by county. Statistical table shows population by county. Inset of Boston showing important buildings. An...


1831 - Map of the State of New York . . . 1831

  • $9.99

Highly detailed large format map of New York, from Finley's rare American Atlas, published in 1826. The map is hand colored by counties and shows towns, rivers, roads, lakes, mountains, islands, canals, etc. Excellent detail. Includes a profile of the...


1846 - Philadelphia

  • $9.99

Detailed and interesting map of Philadelphia, published by SA Mitchell in 1846 and engraved by Burroughs. The map is hand colored apparently by Wards, although curiously so. Includes an index of public buildings, hotels, churches (including a Jewish...


1832 - Map of Virginia and Maryland Constructed from the Latest Authorities . . . 1832

  • $14.99

An Early American Map of Virginia & Maryland - Includes White, Free Black & Slave Population Table Second edition of Samuel Augustus Mitchell's separately published map of Virginia and Maryland (with a large inset of Washington DC). The map...


1847 - A New Map Of Maryland and Delaware with their Canals, Roads, Distances . . . 1847

  • $9.99

Detailed and interesting map of Maryland and Delaware, hand colored by county and showing towns, rivers, bays, lakes, railroads, roads, distances, etc. This 1849 state of the map includes for the first time a number of railroads not present in earlier...


1835 - [Pocket Map] Map Of The States Of Louisiana, Mississippi & Alabama Constructed from the latest Authorities. 1831

  • $9.99

First edition of S.A. Mitchell's folding map of Louisaiana, Mississippi and Alabama, engraved by J.H. Young. A remarkably detailed map of the region, with excellent notes throughout, including details on Steam Boat and Stage Coach Routes, Indian...


1847 - A New Map Of Kentucky with its Canals, Roads, Distances from Place to Place, along the Stage & Steam Boat Routes…

  • $9.99

Detailed and interesting map of Kentucky, hand colored by county and showing towns, rivers, lakes, railroads, roads, distances, forts, etc. Tables of Steam Boat routes and distances. Large insets of area around Lexington, the Washington and Clarksburg...


1845 - Map of the States of Louisiana Mississippi & Alabama.

  • $14.99

Late, updated edition of Finley's American Atlas map of three states, first issued in 1825. This edition was published by Samuel Augustus Mitchell after he took over the plates. Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. are given as the mapsellers. Perhaps the...


1847 - A New Map Of Louisiana with its Canals, Roads, Distances from Place to Place, along the Stage & Steam Boat Routes . . . 1847

  • $14.99

Detailed and interesting map of Louisiana, hand colored by parish, and showing towns, rivers, bays, lakes, railroads, swamps, etc. Includes a Table of Steam Boat routes and distances. Large inset map of New Orleans, colored by wards. An early map of...