Map of the Week: Eagle Map of the United States, 1833

map of the week

Map of the Week: Eagle Map of the United States, 1833

By: Joseph & James Churchman

In 1833, The United States didn’t have an East Coast yet, for lack of a West Coast. The gigantic Louisiana Territory, acquired some 30 years earlier from the French, gave America dominion over the Mississippi basin, but Mexican land and the Oregon territory, claimed by Great Britain, still stood between the US and its ‘Manifest Destiny‘ – to stretch “from sea to shining sea”.

That’s a line from Katharine Lee Bates’ song ‘America the Beautiful‘, composed in 1893 when the west was won, mainly by the Mexican-American War of 1846-’48. It would be many decades before all the lands between Mississippi and Pacific would enter the Union as full-fledged states, but the iconic shape of America’s lower 48 states was there.

The map represents America as an eagle, with its head coinciding with New England (except Maine), its eye with Vermont, its neckline following Lakes Ontario and Erie, the wing outlines Lakes Huron and Superior.  The eagle’s breast follows the Atlantic seaboard, its talons form Florida – even though the claws protrude far from the coastline, and somewhat ominously, towards Cuba.

The real reason why this particular iconic representation of America’s national bird never caught on, is in the tail-feathers – shaped to follow a border no longer in existence by 1848. The western borders of the subsequent independent and later US state of Texas are recognizable, for now as the dividing line between the US and Mexico. The feathers follow the US inland border as it moves north, and disappears out of sight at the area disputed with Great Britain.  Meanwhile, the great inland empire of Louisiana is already being divided up into US states, with Louisiana and Missouri separated from the ‘mainland’ of the formerly French lands.

It is believed that Joseph Churchman authored the text and his brother, James Churchman, authored the map.  The engraving was done by Isaac W. Moore.  This map was published in Philadelphia in 1833 by Carey & Hart, in a now extremely rare atlas, the Rudiments of National Knowledge, Presented To The Youth of the United States, And To Inquiring Foreigners, By A Citizen Of Pennsylvania.

An image of this map was sent in by antique maps dealer Barry Ruderman, who recently put an original copy of the map up for sale. It’s yours for just under 20,000 dollars, indicating just how rare it is.  As noted by David Rumsey, “the ‘eagle’ map is most extraordinary and rare: it shows an eagle superimposed in engraving and color on the United States, with the Talons in Florida, the eye in Vermont, and the wings spreading west to the Missouri Territory. It is beautifully done.”

We have curated a collection of the highest quality maps available. Printed on archival matte paper or artist grade canvas, these maps will compliment any space; be it an office, bedroom, or library.  A large portion of our collection comes from David Rumsey, who holds one of the largest private map collections in the United States. Rumsey has been collecting and curating maps of North and South America since 1980, and is donating his collection to Stanford University over the next ten years. We are currently offering over 800 pieces of his 27,000 piece collection, and are adding more every day.

View our entire cartography collection:


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Map of the week


Map of the Week: Texas and Mexico, Houston and Texas Central Railways, 1885

By: Houston and Texas Railway

The charter for the Galveston and Red River Railway was obtained by Ebenezer Allen of Galveston on March 11, 1848. However, the company did not become active until 1852, when, after a series of meetings at Chappell Hill and Houston, the charter was made available for the proposed railroad from Houston to the Brazos River and the interior of Texas.

Track laying began in early 1856, and the rails reached Cypress City, the twenty-five-mile point, on July 26, 1856. On September 1, 1856, the company was renamed Houston and Texas Central Railway Company. By April 22, 1861, the railroad was open eighty-one miles to Millican, but the Civil War prevented any additional construction until 1867. The H&TC reached Corsicana in 1871, Dallas in 1872, and Red River City in 1873. At Red River City connection was made with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad to form the first all-rail route from Texas to St. Louis and the East.

In 1867 the H&TC acquired the Washington County Railroad, which had completed a line between Hempstead and Brenham in April 1861. This line was extended to Austin, where the final spike was driven on Christmas Day, 1871. The H&TC also acquired the Waco and Northwestern, formerly the Waco Tap, and completed the line between Bremond and Waco in 1872.

Other railroads subsequently merged into the H&TC include the Austin and Northwestern, Central Texas and Northwestern, Fort Worth and New Orleans, Hearne and Brazos Valley, and Houston Railway. Major new construction after 1900 included the Mexia-Nelleva cutoff from a point near Navasota to Mexia, which was completed in 1907, and the extension from Giddings to Stone City in 1913, which completed the Dalsa cutoff and shortened the route between San Antonio and Dallas by 140 miles.

The H&TC was sold to Charles Morganqv in March 1877 and came under Southern Pacific control. However, the H&TC continued to be operated by its own organization until 1927, when it was leased to the Texas and New Orleans. At the time of the lease the H&TC operated 872 miles of track. It merged with the T&NO in 1934. The rest of the railroad was narrowed in three stages: Corsicana to Hearne in 1874, Hearne to Houston in 1876, and the Austin line in March 1877.

The company also became one of the first in Texas to use oil as a locomotive fuel when it began experimenting with oil-fired locomotives in early 1901. Significant portions of the former H&TC have been abandoned or sold. In 1933 the Mexia-Nelleva cutoff was abandoned. Later abandonments included the line between Bremond and Waco (1967), the track between Hempstead and Brenham (1961–62), and the track between Brenham and Giddings (1979). On August 19, 1986, the line from Giddings through Austin to Llano was sold to the city of Austin. Lines still operated by the Southern Pacific in 1988 included Houston to Denison, Ennis to Fort Worth, and Hearne to Giddings.

Map of the weekSource: Texas State Historical Association

To read more on abandoned rails in Texas:

Map Of the Week: Rambles Through Our Country, 1886

Vintage US Map

Map of the Week: Rambles Through Our Country, 1886

Artist: Unknown

Map Maker: American Publishing Company

Rambles through Our Country is a simple educational game requiring players to complete a “grand tour” of the United States, as depicted on a chromolithographic pictorial map. The map bears 200 numbered stations beginning with Hartford—where the game was published—and concluding with New York City, with at least three stops in each state along the way. Players move by spinning a “teetotum” and advancing their token the prescribed number of stops. At each stop, they read aloud a description of the corresponding locale from the accompanying booklet.

The map and direction booklet were published by the American Publishing Company in Hartford, Connecticut during 1880s. At this time, there were 38 states plus the Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, Utah, Indian, New Mexico, and Arizona territories and the District of Columbia.

This map is detailed with illustrations of natural and cultural features of each state such as waterways, mountains, cities, railroads, agriculture, mining, people, and historical events. Texas is shown with Indians chasing a large herd of buffalo.  California is dominated by scenes of Yosemite.  Especially emphasized is the Native American presence in the West. Two large vignettes depict Native Americans observing a train and the Statue of Liberty framed by text: “To the rising generation.”

This bright and whimsical vintage map of the United States, may have been designed for a children’s game, but it is quite wonderful in its own right.


Map of the Week: San Francisco Birds Eye View, 1878

Map ofSan Francisco Birds Eye View, 1878San Francisco Birds Eye View, 1878, by Charles R. Parsons

The city of San Francisco was incorporated in 1850, and later grew to become one of the most famous cities in the US. The California Gold Rush in 1848 saw the city’s population increase from 1,000 to 25,000 over the course of a year. This beautiful map provides a look back to the early beginnings of the city.

This stunning panoramic map was sketched by Charles R. Parsons and originally published in 1878 by Currier & Ives. This bird’s-eye view of San Francisco from the bay looks southwest across the city to the Pacific Ocean.  The map offers a look into San Francisco’s past with colorful illustrations of buildings, streets, and the bay filled with numerous ships from the 1800’s. Looking west into the distance is Golden Gate Park.

The illustrations include advertisements in German and English for various San Francisco businesses including I.W. Taber. More than one hundred landmarks are named in its index, including Union Square, churches, bank buildings and hotels. It is a two-dimensional time machine that will provide years of fascination, conversation and enjoyment.

 Source: The David Rumsey Map Collection

The David Rumsey Map Collection was started over 25 years ago and contains more than 150,000 maps. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century maps of North and South America, although it also has maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. The collection includes atlases, wall maps, globes, school geographies, pocket maps, books of exploration, maritime charts, and a variety of cartographic materials including pocket, wall, children’s, and manuscript maps. Items range in date from about 1700 to 1950s.



Map of the Week: Society For The Diffusion Of Useful Knowledge, New York, N.Y., 1840

The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

New York, N.Y. 1840


Founded in 1826, and wound up in 1848, SDUK, as the Society was known, published inexpensive maps to encourage broad use in education. The aim of the Society was to reach as many people as possible.

One of their most widely read publications was the Penny Magazine. Maps were just another part of their publishing. The map committee was founded in 1828 with the first two maps published in 1829 under the title A Series of Maps, Modern and Ancient. Over a period of 14 years the series expanded to 209 plates with over 3 millions maps being sold.


Map: New York, N.Y. 1840

This superior reproduction of the map of “New York” was originally published in 1840. This is a very fine example from the fascinating and highly accurate series of maps issued in London between about 1830 and 1850 by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.

The map covers southern Manhattan from the Battery northwards to 42nd street as well as portions of adjacent Jersey City, Brooklyn, and Williamsburg. Governors Island and Ellis Island appear in the harbor. Massive proposed docks on the Hudson River, none of which actually materialized, as well as tentative landfills on the East Side and in Williamsburg are ghosted in.The Harlem Railroad is shown extending into the Bowery, as are the Albany, L Long Island, New York and Williamsburgh Ferries.

In Manhattan specifically no less than 40 important buildings are identified numerically and by a key in the upper right quadrant.  In the lower quadrants engraved views illustrate ‘Broadway from the Park’, that being City Hall Park with Trinity Church clearly visible in the background, and City Hall itself. This map was printed for the S.D.U.K. Atlas.

Click on one of the maps below to view our entire map collection by The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.