1846 Folding Map of Western America

Value (2011) | $12,500 Retail
Watch  

APPRAISER:
They say good things come in small packages. Here's a small package, but it actually unfolds. So let's see what this looks like, all right?

GUEST:
All right.

APPRAISER:
Don't try this at home. We're experts, right?

GUEST:
Yep.

APPRAISER:
Here we go, okay. Now, this is a folding map, which was very typical of 19th-century maps. They were issued on what's called banknote paper, which was quite strong but thin, so that it could be folded up.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
One of the problems with this, as you can imagine, is if you fold these and unfold these a lot of times, they're going to tear, so the survival rate on these is quite low. They did issue a lot of them. This map was issued in 1846, and actually says up here, by S. Augustus Mitchell, from Philadelphia. Mitchell was the leading cartographic publisher at the time. Clearly it shows what is now the western part of the United States, but then wasn't. Now, there are some interesting features on this map, geographically, and one of the things, as you can see, is Oregon is quite large. And you know about the history of that, so why don't you tell me a bit about it.

GUEST:
This was the year that the Oregon Treaty was signed between the United States and Great Britain to determine the boundary between American holdings and British holdings. And it had been being pushed up and down what is Oregon Territory. According to this map, it's up here at 54-40. But the treaty resolves it at the 49th parallel.

APPRAISER:
Right.

GUEST:
Which is where it is today.

APPRAISER:
Well, at that time, it was called the Oregon Country.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And what had happened is the Hudson's Bay Company had come down there, was trapping, and then after Lewis and Clark went out, you had Americans coming into here, and, of course, in the 1840s you had the Oregon Trail. And in 1818, Britain and the United States had said it would be joint occupancy, so it was controlled by both countries.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
So there was a lot of conflict. And it was in 1846, after this map was issued,

GUEST:
Yes

APPRAISER:
that they had that border, but of course Mitchell, being a proud American,

GUEST:
Right

APPRAISER:
showed it all as part of America.

GUEST:
Yep.

APPRAISER:
And you can find British maps at the same time that show that being British. That is what's really neat about these folding maps is they were very important, they were very timely, they showed what was happening. This is at an incredibly important year, 1846. Within two years of this, the United States added about a third of its territory.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Because at this time, this whole area, that was still part of Mexico.

GUEST:
Yep.

APPRAISER:
And the Mexican War started 1846, two years later. That became part of the United States. So this shows really what was happening at that time, and that's what makes this one of the most important American maps, actually,

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
of the 19th century. And one thing you can notice is look at the shape of Texas, how big it is.

GUEST:
Yes, yeah

APPRAISER:
Well, Texas, of course, claimed that. This was just after Texas became a state in 1845. It's beautiful.

GUEST:
Yes, yes it is, it’s gorgeous.

APPRAISER:
I mean, this is all original color. It's in very, very good shape. You've got a little bit of separation in the folds. That's fairly typical, but it's in beautiful shape, and as I say, they're quite rare. One thing to consider is you can have it removed from the booklet and framed. As long as you keep the booklet with it, it can always be put back together. Now, this came to you from an uncle, is that right?

GUEST:
Yes, I found it in my uncle's library after he passed away. He loved Oregon, and I think that's probably why he had it.

APPRAISER:
It's one of the more valuable of the American maps of the 19th century. In a retail shop, this generally sells for about $12,500.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
So, especially in this kind of condition.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
A lot of that value comes because of the Texas.

GUEST:
I would think, yeah.

APPRAISER:
Texans love Texas maps. If the map was cut off here, probably be worth about half of that. (both chuckle)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
The Philadelphia Print Shop West
Denver, CO
Appraised value (2011)
$12,500 Retail
Event
Eugene, OR (June 04, 2011)
Period
19th Century
Form
Map
Material
Paper

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