1853 Colton U.S. Wall Map

Value (2012) | $4,500 Retail

About ten years ago my wife and I attended a local library auction. They got rid of a lot of their extras. And I just happened to be drawn to a map area, and the local maps of Rochester were all taken, and I happened to see this, and it looked pretty interesting, so I took it in hand and left with it.

And what did you pay for it?

Two dollars, if I remember correctly.

Well, this is a wall map from the middle of the 19th century, 1853, issued by Colton firm in New York. And the middle 19th century was of course a period of great immigration to the United States and great movement of population to the western parts of the United States. And with that great movement and new immigrants, there was a huge demand for maps. Maps like this were issued, and then laid onto linen. And you can see a little bit of the linen up here. And then they were varnished with varnish to protect them and attached to rollers like this, so they could be hung. And they were hung in land offices and law offices, in county seats and places like that, so the public could come in, or people who worked in the office could look. Now, maps like this were really the greatest of the 19th century American maps. And the reason for that is, one thing is they were the most up to date. They had to be up to date, because they were used by the people moving out west. And not only were they up to date, but they were filled with an immense amount of information that was necessary. For instance, people going out on the Oregon Trail could look on this map, and up here you can see you have the Oregon route. And it goes along down through here. And they even show the cutoff of the shortcuts to different places. And over here on the right we have statistics that would be important to these immigrants. You had population, including colored persons, free and slave, and the populated square miles, farms under cultivation, and what they called productive establishment. These were things that were important to people. Unfortunately, because of the way that they were made, they're very, very rare. Because they were exposed to the elements, they would get stains on them. You can see stains. They would also flake off. Restoration on these things is incredibly expensive. Luckily yours is in very good condition. And that helps to add to its interest and its value. I would say a map like this would sell for between $1,200 and $1,500.

That's nice.

Which is a pretty good return on your two dollar investment. It's too bad that the library got rid of it.

Yeah, that's exactly true.

Appraisal Details

The Philadelphia Print Shop West
Denver, CO
Update (2012)
$4,500 Retail
Appraised value (1998)
Rochester, NY (August 08, 1998)

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