Catalog Archive
Auction 189, Lot 120

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

"[Map in Book] Geological Map of the United States Canada &c. Compiled from the State Surveys of the U.S. and Other Sources [in] Travels in North America, in the Years 1841-2; with Geological Observations on the United States...", Lyell, Charles

Subject: Eastern United States & Canada, Geology

Period: 1845 (published)


Color: Hand Color

19.6 x 15.3 inches
49.8 x 38.9 cm
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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, two volumes in one (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 title on spine.

References: Marcou & Marcou #34; Howes #L-575; Sabin #42761.

Condition: B

The folding map has light offsetting and minor foxing. Text is lightly toned with a few loose pages and the plates have moderate foxing. Covers have light shelf wear with bumped corners. Spine is cracked and the spine backstrip is nearly detached.

Estimate: $550 - $700

Sold for: $475

Closed on 9/14/2022