Rare 1855 wall map of Grafton Massachusetts

E.M. Woodford / Lithd. by Friend & Aub / Wagner & McGuigan’s Lithc. Press, MAP of the Town of GRAFTON WORCESTER COY. MASS. From actual Surveys by E. M. WOODFORD Published by RICHARD CLARK No. 115 Wharton St., Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Richard Clark, 1855.
Lithograph on 2 sheets joined, printed area 34 ¾”h x 49 ¾”w plus margins, wash and outline color by district. Backed on modern replacement linen and mounted on rollers (the upper original, the lower replacement).

A lovely, richly-informative, and extraordinarily rare 1855 wall map of Grafton Massachusetts, an important Worcester County mill town.

Woodford’s map provides a wonderfully detailed depiction of Grafton, located in Worcester County along the Quinsigamond River just west of modern-day Route 495. Incorporated in 1735, the town thrived early in the Industrial Revolution due to the ready availability of water power from the river and the presence of the Boston & Worcester (1830s) and Providence & Worcester Railroads (1840s).

The image consists in fact of four maps in one, with a small-scale (80 rods:inch) map of the township at left, with 20 rods:inch plans of the town center, New England Village, and Saundersville at right. This combination of small- and large-scale presentations is typical of the many town maps published in Philadelphia in the mid-1850s.

The township map shows Grafton in its entirety, emphasizing the road network, school district boundaries, schools, businesses and the landowners of outlying properties. The inset plans are remarkably detailed, with individual buildings shown in plan view and their owners identified. Of particular interest is the inset of New England Village, which shows clearly how the mill complexes drove nearby development, while an inset of the town center shows the classic layout of the surrounded by fine homes and businesses on narrow “town lots.” The visual appeal and documentary value of the map is greatly enhanced by no fewer than 16 pictorial vignettes including churches, two cotton mills and several fine residences. These vignettes were almost certainly commissioned and paid for by the owners of the buildings depicted, which along with subscriptions would have provided Richard Clark with working capital to fund production of the map.

Clark and Woodford
From 1851-1855 Richard Clark was very active as a publisher of large-scale town maps, and more than 30 maps of Connecticut and Massachusetts (including many in Worcester County, Mass.) issued during this period bear his imprint. While the maps issued by Clark were probably less accurate than those by his major competitor Henry F. Walling, they are information rich and far more decorative, typically bearing large-scale inset plans of population centers and numerous pictorial vignettes of local landmarks.

According to Ristow E.M. Woodford conducted surveys for nine or ten plans of Connecticut towns (American Maps and Mapmakers, p. 388), and (as of June 2017) this writer knows of eleven Massachusetts and two New Hampshire town maps on which he is credited as the surveyor. Many—and possibly all—of these were published under the Clark imprint. He also tried his hand at publishing, and his imprint appears on at least seven maps, including six of Maine towns made by D.S. Osborn.

OCLC 557578545 (British Library only). Another is held by the American Antiquarian Society but has not yet been catalogued. Not in Antique Map Price Record, Phillips, Rumsey or the C/W MARS union catalog of Central and Western Massachusetts libraries.


Typical toning and residual soiling and staining, with some small areas of facsimile largely confined to border but affecting printed area in a couple of places.