Unrecorded Mammoth Cave broadside, with a map!

[After Nahum Ward ] / Printed by E. Smith and Co. 75, Lord-street, THE WONDERFUL MAMMOTH CAVE IN KENTUCKY. [Copied from an American Engraving, dated in the year 1817.] Liverpool, [ca. 1840.]
Broadside, 15 ¾”h x 11”w. Wood-engraved map surmounting a line of headline type and four columns of letterpress. Small areas of minor discoloration and a bit of edge wear, but very good.

An unrecorded broadside bringing news of Mammoth Cave to the British public, illustrated by a woodcut plan of the cave complex.

Mammoth Cave was discovered in the late 18th century, but only became a national sensation after Nahum Ward (1785-1860) published an account of his 1816 visit. A Shrewsbury, Mass. native and grandson of Revolutionary War hero Artemis Ward, Nahum had moved to Marietta, Ohio in 1811. He was apparently well connected, and had become Treasurer and the controlling shareholder of the Ohio Company of Associates, himself holding as much as 100,000 acres in the region. Later in life he served as the mayor of Marietta, founded its Unitarian Church, and had the honor of playing host to both the Marquis de Lafayette and John Quincy Adams.

Ward’s description first appeared in the Worcester Spy newspaper, and it caused such a sensation that it was picked up by other publications throughout the county and eventually in Great Britain. The broadside offered here is an example of the latter, a “cheap print” issued in Liverpool perhaps a quarter century later to eke out some additional bit of profit from the interesting story.

The broadside consists of five columns of text in small type, surmounted by the title and a plan of the cave. The text, reprinted from Nahum Ward’s original account, describes his 19-hour journey into the cave, highlighted by “the Chief City,” the “chamber of eternal darkness,” a bat encounter of major proportions, and the viewing (and apparent purchase) of the mummified remains of a native American woman. The plan is based at least in part on Ward’s own observations, as he mentions carrying “papers and compass” and to “sketching a plan” of “a large avenue.” Though crude in execution it is rather informative, being alphabetically keyed to the main text and to a legend explaining key features of the cave.

Not in COPAC or OCLC.