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Colton’s New Steel Plate Map of New England

Full Quality, TIFF Version available at: Download TIFF from MAGIC (provided by Martayan Lan Fine Antique Maps, New York)


Author: Colton, J. H./ Baker, W. E. & A. A.


Title: Colton’s New Steel Plate Map of New England.


Year: 1860.


Description (Provided by Martayan Lan Fine Antique Maps, New York):

First edition. Seldom seen, information-rich, wall map of New England, with large inset maps of Boston (14 x 11”) and the United States (14 ½ x 25”). The plan of Boston depicts the city at evidently an early stage in the filling in of Back Bay, as the proposed streets are shown but only a few as yet are named. Another very interesting inset consisting of many clocks shows the times to the minute in various cities, both in New England and beyond, when it is twelve o’clock in Boston. This is a vivid reminder that this map appeared prior to the adoption of single, uniform times within time zones, which would not occur until 1883. The map is valuable as a source for the railroads of the region at time; they are both clearly shown and named. It was, in fact, the need of railroads to standardize timetables that necessitated the aforementioned change in the keeping of time.


A clear indication of the growing industrialization of New England can be found in the statistical tables. While the usual population figures for each county are given, also provided are the numbers of farms and manufacturing concerns in each. And while farms are still in the great majority, in some counties manufacturing already pre-dominates. Also, three of the four fine corner vignettes are scenes of industry and commerce.

It is interesting that the map’s title plays up the fact that it was steel engraved. When this map was published, steel engraving was very much on the wane, having given way to the much cheaper and easier lithographic process. So, perhaps it was thought worth mentioning that the map employed the older process, which was capable of greater elegance in engraving.


Reproduced from the original map at Martayan Lan Fine Antique Maps, New York.

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Taken on January 1, 1860