FRENCH, John Homer (1824-1888)
The State of New York from New and Original Surveys under the direction of J.H. French
Syracuse: Robert Pearsall Smith, 1860. Hand-coloured lithographic wall map, backed with modern linen, full period color, trimmed in red cloth, on contemporary rollers. Two inset maps: "Geological and Land Patent Map of the State of New York" and "Meterological Map of the State of New York." Twelve inset city plans: Buffalo, Troy, Utica, Syracuse, Albany, Oswego, Schenectady, Hudson, Auburn, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, New York City. Twelve pictorial vignettes of New York State towns and scenery, and a decorative border of scrolling vines. In good condition except for occasional expert repairs and old repair evident along right edge. Sheet size: 67 x 73 3/4 inches.
The second edition of the best map of any American state published to its time. Ristow devoted an entire chapter to the construction of this map, and pronounced it of a "higher quality than the maps of other states published prior to the Civil War." 'American Maps and Mapmakers', pp. 355-378.
Beginning in 1853, Robert Pearsall Smith contracted with a number of local surveyors to construct maps of New York counties. In 1855 he engaged John Homer French to compile a state map from the various county maps. Although the individual county maps were not all of uniform quality, they were far more consistent and comprehensive than the local surveys conducted for any other American state. French's general map of The State of New York, first published in 1859, supplanted Burr's Atlas of the State of New York (1829), as the definitive reference for the topography of the state. It remained so until two decades later, when the U.S. Geological Survey began publishing maps based on original triangulation. This second edition was published in 1860. Despite the quality of the map, the number of copies sold was insufficient to offset costs, and in 1865 Smith sold his publication rights to H. H. Lloyd, who brought out new editions.
Cf. BMC Printed Maps X, col. 558; Journal of the American Geographical and Statistical Society 2 (1860), p. 135; Phillips, America, p. 513; Ristow, American Maps & Mapmakers, pp.355-78; not in Rumsey.