Colton's Map of Central Europe, 1859

Colton's Map of Central Europe with an inset Map of the Seat of War
J.H.Colton, Author
New York City, New York
New York City, New York
hand colored lithograph
Professionally conserved
original colors, professionally conserved, backed with new linen separately published map, on thin paper
33 × 42.5 inches
Sale Status: 
For Sale

There appears to be little written about this separately published, hard to find large scale 1859 Colton's Map of Central Europe with an inset Map of the Seat of War. The historical subject of Colton's 1859 map is the Italian Second War of Independence also known as the Franco-Austrian War.  Thus the map was published contemporaneously with this event. The large Colton's Map of Central Europe, and the small inset Map of the Seat of War are framed by an acanthus leaf border, countries are outlined in red,  each country in a contrasting color with detailed geographic and political features. Ships sail the European waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean.  European borders reflect recent 19th European Wars,  the Italian war of independence in 1848-49, and the 1853-56 Crimean War,  itself represented cartographically by Colton's 1854 "The European Battlefields!" (see inventory of Original Antique Maps). At the bottom of the map is a chart titled "Reference to the States of the Germanic Federation." A distinctive acanthus leaf border with elaborate corner details completes the image.

The large sheet format of Colton's Map of Central Europe is uncommon. Typically, Colton's large maps were published in wall map format on stiff, fabric backed paper with wood rollers. A J.H. Colton & Co. publisher list of Colton's large scale, separately published maps appears in the inside pocket cover of Colton's Map of Virginia, 1861 (see Original Antique Maps). The list identifies: The World on Mercator's Projection, 80 x 60 inches, 44 x 36 inches, 28 x 22 inches; North America "large and small", South America "ditto", Europe, Asia and Africa "ditto."  Colton's Map of Central Europe 1859 is not named. Colton secured his copyright to the Map of Central Europe in 1855. This map shares the same acanthus border design as Johnson's large wall map New Illustrated and Embellished County Map of the Republics of North America copyright by Johnson in 1856 and published in 1857. Please see the David Rumsey Collection. Thus a publishing arrangement between Colton and Johnson in 1859 is graphically reflected in Colton's Map of Central Europe 1859.

Colton's large scale, independently published maps were in their time notable. Colton's large format maps are cited in the Geographical Notice by Dr. Norton Shaw, Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society of London in the beautifully illustrated The Royal Illustrated Atlas of Modern Geography, Printed in 27 Parts from 1857 to 1862, A. Fullarton and Co., London and Edinburgh, 1864.  Dr. Snow's essay about the importance of geographical knowledge as portrayed in maps, travel books and other cartographic material includes a catalogue raisonne of thousands of maps in which he makes only three references to American mapmakers! One is to Mitchell for his 1853 New Universal Atlas published in Philadelphia; and the other two are to Colton for his large format, independently published maps: Colton's Map of the World on Mercator's Projection, in 6 sheets, 60" x 80" no date given and Colton's Missionary Map of the World in Hemispheres c. 1836 (pre 1840) dimensions 80" x 160".  

I have not located an atlas map version of this map. There is an 1859 pocket map edition of  Colton's Map of Central Europe, with an inset Map of the Seat of War that is a small, graphically similar map. See the example in the University of Louisville Library.

Colton's Map of Central Europe and The Seat of War, 1859  represents a moment of major military and political upheaval in Europe that changed the European world order. The Kingdom of Sardinia, with France as its military ally ultimately succeeded in Italy's second war of independence by ejecting Austria. Austria's diminished political standing in Europe, France's expanded territory and the repositioning of the other European powers followed.

The year 1859 was as well a defining one for Colton, whose firm suffered severe financial distress. Johnson, by then a map publisher himself, and known to Colton as his former Boston agent, moved into the offices of Colton's firm. Johnson continued as Johnson & Browning, with access to Colton's map plates on terms that remain unclear. Colton resumed publishing under his own name in the 1860's. Johnson became a publishing powerhouse under his own name.

See, Ira Lourie's Johnson U.S. Map Project

Alvin J. Johnson and his role in 19th Century Map Making in America

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