This is a rare pocket map of Kentucky four years before the Civil War. The map is a bright color lithograph, with three inset maps: one in black and white of Falls of Ohio River with major cities on either side of the Ohio River including Louisville, Jeffersonville, the Shipping port Canal, Portland and New Albany; a black and white inset map of Washington, Williamsburg and Clarksburg; and a large color inset map of Lexington in Fayette County with the surrounding counties. A chart on the map lists Steam Boat Routes. The Explanation key shows the symbols for canals, rail roads, the state capital, county towns and leading roads. The map's key notes "Land distances from Town to Town are noted along the Roads thus..." In this complex folding map, each county is hand colored in a contrasting color, the decorative border is black and white. Longitude is measured from Washington, D. C. Mountains are shown with shading and hachures.
The map is a historic map of Kentucky and also a record of the rapid turnover of map publishing houses at that time. The map was copyright in 1856 by Desilver who was the second owner of plates originally used by Mitchell in 1846 for the first edition of his New Universal Atlas. Maps were updated by Mitchell until 1850, according to Ristow. Thereafter, Cowperthwait purchased and updated the Mitchell atlas in 1853 and Desilver purchased these plates in 1856. In fact, the cover of the pocket map bears Mitchell's name, presumably to continue the association with a giant of map publishing at that time. The inside cover of the Kentucky map pocket lists the most recent publishing enterprise of Cowperthwait and Desilver. This pocket map bears a page number 28 in the lower right hand corner relating in all likelihood to the most recent edition of the New Universal Atlas current at that time. The map now has an elaborate black and white border and the two inset maps are black and white rather than in color as in prior, Mitchell versions of this map.
This detailed pocket map could have been used readily by a traveler passing through Kentucky by stage coach, boat or train, and is equally well suited due to the chart that lists all Steam Boat routes in Kentucky as a river traveler's guide. Travel and commerce on the Ohio River was a major economic draw for travelers and emigrants to Kentucky and this pocket map would most certainly have been a good travel companion at that time.
Research has only turned up one example of this pocket map in an institutional collection.