UNITED STATES, General Land Office - C. ROESER, Principal Draughtsman, G.L.O.
Atlas of the states and territories over which land surveys have been extended [label on upper cover]
Washington, D.C. General Land Office [printed in New York by Julius Bien, lithographer], 1878-1879. Folio broadsheets. (33 1/2 x 26 1/4 inches). 28 lithographed maps on 29 sheets (California printed on two sheets), printed in two or three colours, photo-lithographed by Julius Bien after Roeser. Each map linen-backed at a contemporary date and with a morocco tab labelled in gilt at the outer edge. With a bespoke, contemporary printed list of contents.
Contemporary brown cloth, original lettered morocco label on upper cover, rebacked and retipped to style.
Provenance: J. W. Dwight
Very rare atlas containing the most detailed, large-scale maps of the American West.
The General Land Office was founded in 1812 as an independent government agency responsible for the surveying and disposition of land in the public domain. Prior to the Civil War, much of the attention of the GLO was fixed on the settlement of such land east of the Mississippi which had resulted from military bounties and cessations by the original thirteen states. The end of the Civil War, the Homestead Act, the completion of the Trans-Continental Railroad and the military campaigns against Native Americans in the West (with resulting treaties that transferred land ownership to the United States), together engendered an incredible increase in westward settlement and expansion. Newly-admitted states and newly-created territories west of the Mississippi were primed for settlement. Between 1866 and 1876, the GLO surveyed over 200,000,000 acres of land in the public domain for settlement in New Mexico, Idaho, Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and elsewhere. As the official surveyors of these remote areas, and with access to military information, the maps of the General Land Office were far and away the most accurate and detailed of the western states and territories published to that time. Indeed, these large-scale official maps became the basis for future maps of those regions by commercial cartographers.
In 1876, the GLO, headed by S.S. Burdett, published an atlas containing 18 maps (on 19 sheets, California being on two sheets), showing the regions of the United States with newly surveyed and plotted public lands. Although the GLO had issued individual maps of the United States to accompany their annual report in 1866 and 1868, the 1876 Geographical and Political Atlas of the States and Territories (sometimes referred to as The Centennial Atlas) was the first atlas to be published by the department.
The incredible growth of settlement in the west, coupled with new exploration and surveying, in the short time following the 1876 atlas, engendered a second atlas to be published by the General Land Office between 1878 and 1879 [i.e. the present example]. Like the Centennial Atlas, the maps were composed by the chief draughtsman in the GLO, Charles Roeser, Jr. The maps were done on a large scale and are consequently very detailed. Chromolithographed by Julius Bien, each map is colour coded to clearly depict land plotted for settlement, the locations of the general land offices, Indian territories, county divisions, towns, rivers, roads, railroads, etc.
Furthermore, like The Centennial Atlas , the present Atlas of the States and Territories over which Land Surveys have been Extended (the actual atlas issued without a title, but titled by Phillips based on the lettering on the cover of the Library of Congress copy and the present) was produced for official purposes and distributed to members of Congress, government agencies, each land office, the post office, the railroads, and other large entities and was not available for public distribution. The present example given to the Hon. Jeremiah Wilbur Dwight, an influential Republican member of Congress from New York, serving in the Forty-fifth, Forty-sixth, and Forty-seventh Congresses (1877-1883).
This second General Land Office atlas, however, was expanded from the first atlas, now containing 28 maps (on 29 sheets, California being on two sheets). The maps comprise:
1) State of Ohio. 1878
2) State of Indiana. 1878
3) State of Illinois. 1878.
4) State of Michigan. 1878.
5) State of Wisconsin. 1878
6) State of Minnesota. 1879
7) State of Iowa. 1878
8) State of Missouri. 1878.
9) State of Arkansas. 1878
10) State of Louisiana. 1879
11) State of Mississippi. 1878
12) State of Alabama. 1878
13) State of Florida. 1879
14) Territory of Dakota. 1879
15) State of Nebraska. 1879.
16) State of Kansas. 1879
17) Indian Territory. 1879.
18) Montana Territory. 1879
19) Territory of Wyoming. 1879
20) State of Colorado. 1879
21) Territory of New Mexico. 1879
22) Territory of Idaho. 1879
23) Territory of Utah. 1879
24) Territory of Arizona. 1879.
25) State of Nevada. 1879
26) Washington Territory. 1879.
27) State of Oregon. 1879
28-29) State of California. 1879. Two sheets.
In the west, 18 of the maps show additions and changes from the first atlas (i.e. maps of Minnesota, Louisiana, Florida, Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Indian Territory, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and California). Notable among these changes is the map of Colorado, no longer shown as a Territory but now shown as a State. Maps of the following states, which do not appear in the first G.L.O. atlas, have been added: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.
The limited distribution of this atlas, coupled with its large size, accounts for its great rarity today; very few copies are known to be in private hands and no copies were in the famed collections of Rumsey, Streeter or Graff.
Phillips, Atlases 1405.