The first printed map of Baltimore County Maryland

J.C . Sidney, C[ivil] E[ngineer] & P.J. Browne, MAP OF THE CITY AND COUNTY OF BALTIMORE, MARYLAND. FROM ORIGINALY SURVEYS BY J. C. SIDNEY, C. E. Baltimore: James M. Stephens [but in fact Robert Pearsall Smith], 1851.
Lithograph, 42”h x 32 ½”w plus margins, original wash color, mounted on linen.

A rare, large-scale map of Baltimore County Maryland and one of the very few maps of southern counties published before the Civil War.

This minutely-detailed wall map depicts the county’s twelve districts, road network, railroads, post offices, mills, foundries, schools, taverns, country seats, and the names of thousands of landowners. There is a large inset plan of the City of Baltimore at right, which appears to be based on the 1822 Poppleton plan, a new edition of which was published in 1851, the same year as this map. The visual appeal of the whole is greatly enhanced by the decorative foliate border, within which are embedded vignettes of county landmarks, including the Washington Monument in Baltimore, Fellows Hall, Jones Falls, the Court House, the Exchange, Baltimore Cemetery, and Green Point Cemetery.

Although the map bears the name of James Stephens as the publisher, Papenfuse and Coale state that it was actually published by Robert Pearsall Smith of Philadelphia, whose name appears in the copyright line.   The map’s maker, James C. Sidney, was a “clever civil engineer from England” who was employed by Smith and was responsible for numerous county maps as well as maps of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Trenton, and other cities. All are wall-sized and, in Ristow’s view, “attractively and neatly composed, lithographed, and printed.” (p. 257)  The Maryland State Archives provides some valuable background gleaned from the period press:

“On March 30, 1850, the Baltimore County Advocate published a notice soliciting subscribers. Work was completed during the summer and an advertisement in the Advocate on September 14, 1850 advises that the map is available. This same issue offers a brief review, making note of some errors, and observing, “we can heartily recommend the map to our readers, as forming a not only an ornamental but useful appendage to the walls of hall or cottage, where on some rainy day, every one may travel around the county and see how his fellow citizens are fixed, without stirring from under his own shingles”.”

This is the second state of the map; the first appeared in the previous year. A quick comparison reveals no major differences, though in the second state the B&O Railroad is extended further along the Patapsco River.

This map of Baltimore County is very rare. I find a total for the two states of only eight institutional holdings and no record of another example having appeared on the antiquarian market. The example offered here previously appeared as item 28 in Cohen & Taliaferro’s Catalog Two: Fine Antique Maps and Atlases (2012).

Papenfuse & Coale, Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland, figure 129, p. 114. Phillips, Maps of America, p. 133. Stephenson, Land Ownership Maps, #283, gives a 1st edition held by the Library of Congress. OCLC #556499736 (1850 1st edition, British Library) and #57212208 (Library of Congress and Penn State, giving a dubious date of 1857). Other examples are held by the Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University (2 copies), the Maryland State Archives, and the University of Maryland. OCLC #22216788 and 29852179 list a reproduction issued in 1993 by Family Line Publications.


Scattered cracking and a 2” tear at top center with loss to few letters, some reinforcements on verso. Minor water staining, confined largely to margins.