Auction 145, Lot 36

"Map of the World, on Mercators Projection", Ensign, T. & E.H.

Subject: World

Period: 1844 (dated)


Color: Hand Color

42.3 x 29.5 inches
107.4 x 74.9 cm

The United States and Great Britain established in 1818 joint claim over the Oregon Territory - the region north of Spanish controlled Upper California up to the southern boundary of Russia's Alaska Territory at North latitude 54°40'. By the late 1830's this arrangement was beginning to fall apart. In the 1840's the expansionist Democrats, including their 1844 presidential candidate, James Polk, claimed the entire region for the United States. Their expansionist desires were expressed by Polk's famous campaign slogan, "Fifty-four Forty or Fight!" The slogan also became a rally cry for Americans desiring to settle the territory. Following Polk's election, the dispute was resolved by the 1846 Treaty of Oregon, which struck a compromise that fixed the U.S./Canadian boundary at 49º North.

This large format map, joined on two sheets, is as attractive as it is informative. The map is surrounded by several decorative elements including 91 flags of countries around the world, vignettes of the four continents depicting natives and wildlife, and an elaborate seashell border.

Cartographically, the Republic of Texas is shown in North America with the Rio Grande forming its western border and the Arkansas and Red Rivers defining the northern and eastern boundaries. In the northwest, Oregon Territory extends well into present-day British Columbia reflecting the United States’ claim to the area. Alaska is named Russian America. The seas are filled with the tracks of many explorers including Columbus, Cabot, Cook, La Perouse and Vancouver. There are also tracks showing the Arctic and Antarctic expeditions including those of Ross and Parry. Engraved by John Atwood and published by T & E.H. Ensign.


Condition: C

Professionally backed in heavy tissue to reinforce and repair small cracks that are present throughout the map. There are a few areas of loss near the top of the image in the flag border and in the Arctic Ocean above Asia. Toned and soiled, but still an attractive example.

Estimate: $1,400 - $1,700


Closed on 6/12/2013