Catalog Archive
Auction 158, Lot 129

Rare, Early Large Format Map of Washington D.C.

"Plan of the City of Washington, in the Territory of Columbia, Ceded by the States of Virginia and Maryland to the United States of America, and by Them Established as the Seat of Their Government, After the Year 1800", Russell, John C.

Subject: Washington, D.C.

Period: 1795 (circa)

Publication: An Historical, Geographical, Commercial, and Philosophical View of the United States

Color: Black & White

20.9 x 15.9 inches
53.1 x 40.4 cm
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This map is based on the 1792 plan published by Andrew Ellicott. It is among the larger of the maps issued during the city's development. The plan shows the layout of streets including the long diagonals. Washington is bordered by the Potomack (Potomac) River and the Eastern Branch, now the Anacostia River. Georgetown, at the left and northwest of Rock Creek, is separately labeled. Reedy Branch and Tiber Creek are shown to the north outside of the street pattern. Each block is numbered. A few major buildings including the Capitol and the Presidents House are labeled; others are merely outlined. The proposed landscape design for the Mall is shown with considerable detail. Outline contours of docks and slips are shown along the rivers. Near the upper right is an eight-pointed compass indicator surmounted by a fleur-de-lys. Above the title is George Washington’s coat of arms supported by Fame and Liberty. At the lower right is a distance Scale of Poles. Remarks in the upper right lists the elevation of various locations in relation to the tide of Tiber Creek and how water could be provided to the city. This is one of nine maps engraved by John Russell and published in London as part of John Reid's An American Atlas. The same nine maps were included in An Historical, Geographical, Commercial and Philosophical View of the American United States by William Winterbotham, published in London in 1795 and 1799 and in New York in 1796. Reid's An American Atlas was meant to accompany the version of Winterbotham's history that was published without the maps.

References: Phillips (Atlases) #1363-9; Phillips (DC) #PW 33; Phillips (M) p. 1005; Baynton-Williams, “Plans of Washington, D.C.”,, Issue 12, map 14; Howes, U.S.Iana (1650-1950), W581.

Condition: B+

A clean and bright example issued folding and now flattened and backed with tissue. There is light offsetting primarily in the bottom right corner of the sheet (from an opposing page of text). A binding trim has been replaced at right with old paper, and an associated binding tear that enters 2" into image at right has been professionally repaired.

Estimate: $2,400 - $3,000


Closed on 6/22/2016