Auction 170, Lot 133

First American Edition of Lyell's Important Account & Geological Map

"Geological Map of the United States Canada &c. [with] [2 Volumes] Travels in North America, in the Years 1841-2; with Geological Observations on the United States, Canada, and Nova Scotia", Lyell, Charles

Subject: Eastern United States & Canada, Geology

Period: 1845 (published)


Color: Hand Color

19.8 x 15.3 inches
50.3 x 38.9 cm

This is an important and early geological map by Sir Charles Lyell. Its color-coded key identifies 20 different geological units. The map extends to about the 110th meridian to include the Republic of Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and the North West Territory. Lyell had two major and controversial goals in publishing his work and this map: first, he endeavored to establish a strict uniformitarian theory of the earth's geology, and also to standardize the terminology and methodology employed in the science of geology. This theory posits that the laws of nature are unwavering through space and time. His map, along with James Hall's work of 1843, is a landmark improvement in geological representations and mapping.

The map is accompanied by Lyell's important account of his travels in the region. Lyell, already an eminent naturalist and geologist when he arrived in America, journeyed up the Hudson River and across New York to Niagara Falls. From there he traveled through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the Alleghenies, Carolinas, and into Kentucky and Ohio before completing his journey via the St. Lawrence River to Nova Scotia. His keen observations were as much social and political as they were geological, with discussion of education, economics, and racial issues. This is the first American edition in two volumes (251 pages and 231 pages). Includes a total of 7 plates (3 colored) with the attractive "Birds-Eye View of the Falls of Niagara & Adjacent Country" serving as the frontispiece to volume one. Octavo, hardbound in brown cloth with gilt titles on spines.

References: Marcou & Marcou #34; Howes #L575; Sabin #42761.

Condition: B

The folding map has moderate offsetting and a few short fold separations. Text is light toned and the plates have light to moderate foxing. Covers have light shelf wear with bumped edges, and the hinge of volume one is starting.

Estimate: $600 - $750

Sold for: $450

Closed on 11/14/2018