By: Alvin J. Johnson & Benjamin P. Ward
Date: 1862 (dated) New York
Dimensions: 18.5 x 15 x 1.5 inches
A fine example of one of the most famous and sought after 19th-century world atlases. The Johnson Family Atlas was published with a wealth of information including 1860 census data, several pages on physical geography, background information and descriptions of the history, landscape, and culture of various countries and regions of the world, and 65 maps (single and double-page), many with illustrative vignettes that represent the area shown.
The timing of this atlas is most intriguing with regards to American history. The country had just entered the Civil War, effectively halting westward expansion which had been fueled by the addition of Texas into the Union, the United States victory in the Mexican-American War, and the underlying movement of Manifest Destiny that fueled it all. This allows the atlas to show both United and Confederate states during one of America's most pivotal points in history as well as the western states and territories as they were still being explored and fought over with the Native America tribes that occupied those lands.
Maps of South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia all have their own unique attributes at this point in history. In South America, much of the interior had yet to be mapped, more specifically the Amazon. The same is true for Africa in which much of central Africa, and the Sahara is shown absent of cartographic detail. Australia too is void of any detail except for the coastline where much of its population still resides. In Europe, many countries do not appear as they do today. The 1860s were by no means a time of peace in the region as war raged on between the Prussian and Austrian nations.
In all, this atlas contains many important maps (mostly of American cities, states, and territories) that alone combine for more value than the atlas as a whole. Such maps include the following.
- Rivers and Mountains of the World
- Map of North America
- Military Map of the United States of America
- New York City
- Washington D.C. Capitol of the U.S.A.
- Florida / Florida Keys
- Wisconsin / Michigan
- Minnesota / Dakaota
- Oregon / Washington
- California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona
Condition: This atlas is in B+ condition with some noticeable ware to the spine, corners, and outer boards. Many of the maps are slightly browned with some light soiling and foxing. All are bound into the spine, though some of the double page maps have centerfold separations, which is common for maps from this type of atlas.
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