A Landmark in the Cartography of American States


(New York: published by David H. Burr, 1829). 570 x 430 mm. (22 3/8 x 16 7/8"). 29, [1] (blank) pp., one description leaf for each plate. FIRST EDITION.

Recent period-style half calf over original marbled paper boards, raised bands flanked by gilt rules, gilt lettering. In a fine modern green morocco-backed clamshell box. Engraved title with vignette "View on the Hudson River near Fishkill," 52 HAND-COLORED ENGRAVED MAPS BY BURR (nos. 2 and 3 joined to form a single folding map), three of these folding, 18 double-page. Short, "Representing the Republic: Mapping the United States 1600-1900," pp. 85-88; Howes B-1017; Phillips 2206; Sabin 19873. ◆Some text leaves slightly yellow (three or four with faint browning), maps with mild offsetting, other insignificant imperfections, but a very fine copy in an unworn sympathetic binding.

This is a pleasing copy of the oversized work Short describes as "a landmark document that constitutes one of the most precise cartographic records of the state." It is also one of the earliest such records, being just the second atlas to be produced for any U.S. State, after Mills' 1825 Atlas of South Carolina. Burr (1803–75) was an early and important cartographer for his young country. After attending law school, he joined the New York State Militia and was assigned to work with the state's Surveyor General Simeon De Witt on mapping New York roads. Seeing the need for a statewide guide, Burr approached the governor about combining the work he and De Witt had done with other surveys, and the present state atlas was the result. The New York Legislature provided funding, and Burr published the work, incorporating a map of the whole state, the "Commissioner's Plan" map of New York City, and a map of every county. The importance of the atlas was immediately recognized, and a second edition, issued in 1839, acknowledged that it was "regarded as the only safe depository of the original surveys of this great and growing state to which the people could have convenient access." Burr went on to serve as official topographer of the U.S. Post Office, mapping postal routes, and as geographer to the U.S. Senate. While serving in the latter position, he produced his last known map, the 1854 "Map of the United States." Excellent copies of the atlas are increasingly difficult to obtain.

Price: $25,000.00