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A Highly Detailed, Very Scarce Map of Florida

Florida. G.W. & C.B. COLTON & CO. [New York, 1880/ 1884]
Colton's New Sectional Map Of The Eastern Portion Of Florida…. 30 ¼ x 23 5/8 inches
Lithographed folding with original outline color in original cloth covers; map excellent of this kind with very slight fold wear.

   $2,850


A superb example of this fine large-scale map of Florida, embodying the extensive detail gleaned from the surveys of the U. S. Land Office, the grid from which here covers nearly the entire state. The map includes most of peninsular Florida as far south as Lake Okeechobee. It is a valuable record of Florida's railroad history; as seen here the deepest southern penetration of rail at the time was to Tampa. The map's large scale, 10 miles to an inch, enabled it to depict Florida's numerous waterways, bodies of water and wetlands. Delicate outline and wash coloring demarcates counties on the map. It is safe to say that every city, town and settlement existing in Florida at the time is here on this map.
The near ubiquity of the Land Office grid on the map produces the mistaken impression of greater development than there was at the time. With a population of fewer than half a million at the time, the lower third of the state was little developed.
Text on the map explains how the grids can be used to locate any piece of land on the map, implying its availability in ample supply.
Between 1831 and 1890, the Colton family was among the most prominent and prolific American map publishers. It was founded by Joseph H. Colton, who had no formal training in geography or cartography; his principal role was to manage the production and distribution of the maps. He began by publishing maps drawn by David H. Burr in the 1830s. The firm was renamed G.W. & C.B. Colton in the 1860s when Colton was succeeded by his sons -- George Woolworth Colton (1827-1901) and Charles B. Colton (c. 1831-1916). George Colton compiled the company's 1855 Atlas of the World and served thereafter as the firm's principal map compiler, cartographer and engraver. The company continued to publish a wide range of atlases, pocket maps, wall maps, folding maps for books, etc. until the 1890s, at which point mass production began to overtake the map business. According to map historian Walter W. Ristow, "[h]aving built their business on engraving and lithography, the Coltons were apparently unwilling to reorganize it." Nevertheless, this map reflects the high standards of the firm even late in its life.


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