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The Rare and Classic Rogers & Johnston Atlas. With its Famous Maps of Utah and Nebraska Territories, Among Many Other Good American Maps.
This is an example of one of the most important atlases of North America published just before the start of the Civil War. The atlas contains twenty-nine maps, printed in Rogers and Johnston's attractive and detailed style, with a particularly strong focus on topography and geomorphology.
The atlas opens with a detailed description of the physical geology, climate, economies, demographics, and railways of North America. This section includes many fascinating insights that supplement the maps provided later in the work.
This map follows the publication of the contemporaneous Rogers and Johnston wall map of the United States. Rumsey notes that this atlas was:
unusual collaboration between a Scot (Johnston), an American (Rogers), and an Englishman (Stanford) [not cited in this edition]. The maps are all on a scale of 54.5 miles to one inch, and are very well executed. They are derived from the large Map of The United States, British & Central America, by Rogers and Johnston, 1857. The western U.S. maps show the routes of the proposed Pacific Railroad. Rogers probably wrote the descriptive text. Johnston engraved and drew the maps-these maps are perhaps the best examples of Scottish highly detailed mapmaking applied to the western territories and states, in the pre-Civil War period.
The atlas contains several particularly important maps of western territories. The map showing the Utah Territory has it stretching from the Rocky Mountains to California, bisected by the proposed routes of the transcontinental railroad. This was the only commercial atlas map of the territory. The map of "Kanzas" and the Indian Territory show these southern territories of the plains with early settlements and proposed railroads. For the most part, the lands of the Arapahoes and Cheyennes are little mapped. The Nebraska territory is massive, and detail resembles that shown on the Kansas and Oklahoma map. The maps of New Mexico and Washington and Oregon show fascinating early detail in these areas, especially in inland Washington.
The map of California is remarkably detailed, much more so than contemporary American atlas maps would be. The mountains of southern California are particularly well detailed. Bigelow Lake [Lake Tahoe] is shown with a Mormon settlement just to the east. Owens and a large Mono Lake are still present. An early rail line connects Benicia to Yuba City. Many of the elevations are wildly inaccurate, including Mt. Shasta at 17,600 feet and San Gorgonio Pass at 2,808. This map is, without doubt, the best atlas map of the period for California and also by far the rarest. The map of Texas is one of the rarest English-language maps of the state to appear in a commercial atlas. The counties of the state are all shown, with the many smaller counties of the west giving way to the massive counties of the west. Notes are extensive, describing the geography of areas that are not yet well mapped. The map is very attractively presented.
The map of the United States divides states and territories into free and slave states. The line of the Missouri Compromise is shown, despite the fact that later legislation (the Compromise of 1850) effectively made this act obsolete. In addition, states which export slaves (in the northeastern South) and states which import slaves (southern and western states) are denoted. It is uncommon for a map of the time to be so explicit about the issue of slavery, perhaps reflecting the European origins of this map.
Contents and Provenance
This work includes a complete set of 29 maps, detailed as follows:
This work was owned by the Parisian bookseller A. Franck at some point in the late 19th or 20th century, as indicated by a stamp in the front of the book. The work was printed in Edinburgh by T. Constable.
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