A monumental map of Essex County, Massachusetts

H[enry] F[rancis] Walling Superintendent of State Map / Published by Smith and Morley / Engrd. and manfd. at R.P. Smith's Map Establishment 17 & 19 Minor St. Philadelphia / Engd. by Geo. Worley and Wm. Bracher, A TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP OF ESSEX COUNTY MASSACHUSETTS BASED UPON THE TRIGONOMETRICAL SURVEY OF THE STATE The Details from Actual Surveys under the Direction of H.F. WALLING…. 106 Washington Street, Boston, 1856.
Lithograph on four sheets, segmented and mounted on modern replacement linen with new selvage and marbled paper self covers, 60 ¼"h x 62 ½"w in all. Full original color. Housed in a recent custom box.

Striking map of Essex County, Massachusetts, surrounded by dozens of inset town plans (detailing streets and individual dwellings), an inset geological map, several business directories, a table of distances and vignettes of important landmarks. One of a small percentage of examples that were never varnished, and consequently offered here with vibrant original color.

In the 1850s and 60s, Henry F. Walling was one of the most distinguished and prolific American commercial publishers focusing on local markets, dedicating much of his energy to the mapping of Massachusetts. Much of his early career (ca. 1849-55) was spent producing over 50 large-scale maps of Massachusetts towns. His crowning achievement in the late 1850s was his set of wall-size Massachusetts county maps, of which the present item is an example. These were produced in the context of his 1855 commission by the legislature to update the official state map. (Hence his identification as “Superintendent of the State Map” in the title.)

As Superintendent, Walling had access to the latest and best available data, as is made clear by the map’s subtitle: “Based upon the Trigonometrical Survey of the State, the Details from Original Surveys.” That is, the map was based on two basic kinds of data: First, a statewide “trigonometric” or “scientific” survey used refined instruments and careful astronomical observations to establish a network of precisely located control points. Such a survey could only have been conducted with the large resources and deep expertise available to the state government. Detailed data (town boundaries, roads, topography, etc.) was then filled in, based on less rigorous local surveys by Walling and others working in a private capacity.

Later in his career Walling worked for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and then the U.S. Geological Survey, primarily on projects related to the mapping of New England and the Appalachians. He is noted as an early proponent of federal-state cooperation in the “topographical” (i.e., scientific) mapping of the states. (cf. Ristow, p.337) Such arrangements made sense, because they “leveraged” limited state resources by providing access to the expertise and rigor of Federal agencies. In no small part due to Walling’s advocacy, Massachusetts became the site of the first joint federal-state topographical survey, in which he played an important role.

Phillips, A List of Maps of America, p. 275; Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, chap. 20, “Henry Francis Walling.” Also of use, but rather more focused, is Michael Buehler’s “Henry F. Walling and the Mapping of New England’s Towns, 1849-1857,” The Portolan, no. 71 
(Spring 2008), pp. 22-33.


Couple of small spots near center-left margin, another in lower neatline, otherwise in superb condition with marvelous color.