A Map of the Town of Lexington, Middlesex County, Mass. 1853

A Map of the Town of Lexington, Middlesex County, Mass. Surveyed by Order of the Town H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer, 81 Washington St., Boston. 1853.
Philadelphia, 1853
hand colored lithograph
Professionally restored
Hand colored lithograph, professionally restored and backed on new linen. No indication on edges of map that the map was ever attached to rods, nor any signs that edges were bound in any manner. There is one rough fold line still present, suggesting that at one time a portion of the map was folded and other wear to paper within the map. Some small holes with paper loss along such fold lines, edge wear. Stain on lower quadrant of map and along one edge outside of image. Otherwise, graphics, lettering, measurements and text are good condition.
Dimensions: 
36 × 24 inches
Sale Status: 
For Sale
Price: 
$3,400.00

            This rare 1853 wall map of Lexington, Massachusetts, was published in Philadelphia only seventy-seven years after the outbreak of the American Revolution. Henry Francis Walling (1825-1888) was hired by order of the town to make surveys and field inspections as described on the face of the map "Surveyed by Order of the Town." Walling's Map of the Town of Lexington was when published an important mid-19th century original survey map of Lexington because it updated and replaced the first official map of Lexington drawn in 1830 by order of the Massachusetts legislature for the 1830 statewide mapping of each municipality.  Walling was regarded as one of the preeminent map makers of his time due to his use of instrument surveys to establish precise boundaries, confirm road locations and measure road lengths as well as to locate natural landscape features such as ponds and streams. He is the author of several other notable and rare Massachusetts town surveys of the 1850's.  For his commitment to the science of surveying as the foundation of map making he earned a reputation as one of the authoritative, scientific map makers of his time.

            The large scale of Walling's map of Lexington shows homes, farms and business each labeled with the family name of the owner.  The landscape is described with hand drawn trees and forest, meadow grass, hilltops, mountain and wetlands. Town districts are labeled. There is a large, finely detailed inset map of Lexington Village. Because of the extensive labeling of land ownership, the map can also be read as a directory in graphic form of Lexington families and businesses in the mid-19th century, many of whom would have participated in the Revolutionary War and were now established as Americans.  The inset enlarged map of Lexington Village shows the Lexington Common and Monument, the railroad Passenger Station and Engine House, the nearby Hotel and Stable, the town blacksmith, the Town Hall and each neighboring property owner. Under the heading "Remarks" we learn the length of public highways including the rail line, a proud development for the town. Although unlabeled, it is likely that this track belonged to the Lexington and West Cambridge Railroad, a branch of the Fitchburg Railroad that was chartered in 1845 and began operation in 1846. This rail line continued under different ownership until the freight line was discontinued in 1981, abandoned in 1991 and more recently reconstructed as the Minuteman Commuter Bike Trail.

            The provenance of this map is local.

            I have located no recent sale or auction records for Walling's A Map of the Town of Lexington, Middlesex County, Mass. The map is held by only a few institutions.  Please see The Boston Athenaeum Catalog for an example of a dissected edition.  Please see also the Harvard University map collection and the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection at the Boston Public Library. The map title is listed in the collection of the Cary Memorial Library of Lexington, Massachusetts.  For a detailed and illuminating discussion of the work of H.F. Walling, civil engineer see also The Portolan, 71, Spring 2008, "Henry Walling and the Mapping of New England's Towns" by Michael Buehler.

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The Back Room