Catalog Archive
Auction 151, Lot 739

Complete First Edition of this Rare American Atlas

"Carey's Minor American Atlas; Containing Nineteen Maps...", Carey, Mathew

Subject: Atlases

Period: 1802 (published)


Color: Black & White

8.4 x 10.6 inches
21.3 x 26.9 cm

Mathew Carey was a seminal figure in early American publishing; establishing the first publishing firm to specialize in cartography and issuing the first atlas devoted exclusively to American maps. He set up an elaborate cottage system of craftsmen for compiling, engraving, printing, and coloring maps. This practice was emulated by later American cartographic publishers such as John Melish and Henry S. Tanner. The American Atlas concept was also adopted by other publishers in both the United States and Europe.

This is the complete first edition of this very rare atlas, which was published again in 1810. It contains largely the same maps as in Carey's American Pocket Atlas, first published in 1796. The 19 maps in the atlas are: United States, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, N.W. Territory, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. The map of the United States is a larger folding map, while the remaining maps are all single page. The title explains that the maps are "with the main roads correctly laid down." The maps are engraved by William Barker, Amos Doolittle, and J. H. Seymour.

The first map, "The United States of America," depicts the young country stretching west to the Mississippi River. The states and territories are named with marked boundary lines, including Georgia, which extends from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River. Between Georgia and Florida is the short-lived Mississippi Territory. Rivers, topographical features, and towns fill the map. A large Northwest Territory is shown, with Bellin's mythical islands in Lake Superior, and a Grand Portage extending west.

The individual map of the Northwest Territory shows the land north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi, and mirrors the same features in and around Lake Superior as the United States map. A large portion of Michigan is labeled as an extensive high plain. Present-day Ohio is divided into Indian lands, Army lands, Virginia lands, and the Seven Ranges, which was the first tract to be surveyed under the Public Land Survey System. Numerous forts and towns are named, including Chicago and Detroit.

The significant map of Georgia covers from the Atlantic seaboard to the Mississippi River; present-day Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. There is good topographical information particularly in the north. Towns, Indian villages, and rivers fill the map. The road system exists only in the far eastern region of the state. Mississippi Territory is not shown, and Florida is divided into East and West, with a large swamp noted in East Florida.

The Province of Maine shows the boundary line with New Brunswick (here called Nova Scotia) further to the east than the present-day boundary. Roads extend the length of the coastline, with numerous small towns noted along the way. The interior of the province is filled with rivers, lakes and mountain ranges.

This rare atlas gives a fascinating view of the states and territories at the beginning of the 19th century. 4to, with marbled paper boards and a new, brown faux-leather spine.

References: cf. Howes #C-136.

Condition: B

The majority of the maps are in good condition with toning, scattered foxing, and a few small stains. The folding map of the United States has moderate offsetting. The maps of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts are in satisfactory condition with more significant stains. The covers are heavily rubbed with bumped corners and some stains. The front paste-down has the name of a previous owner, Benjamin S. Webb, written in manuscript ink.

Estimate: $4,000 - $5,000

Sold for: $7,000

Closed on 11/19/2014