A wonderful and very rare pictorial map of the White Mountains.
The map depicts the region from Lake Winnipesaukee in the south to Berlin in the north, and from eastern Vermont all the way over to Conway. At the center, superimposed on and yet somehow integrated with the base map, is an image of the White Mountains in profile depicting the major peaks and their elevations, the roads through Franconia and Crawford Notches, and the Mount Washington carriage road and railway. The profile crudely but effectively shows the transition from the dense woodlands at lower elevations to the shattered terrain above treeline. The whole is complemented by dozens of profile views of the area’s grand hotels and more modest residences, as well as a tiny vignette of Abel Crawford hunting a bear.
This map was the fifth in a series of six White Mountains maps issued by Franklin Leavitt over a period of almost 40 years. Apparently it is also one of the rarest, for according to Tatham an April 1878 fire at Leavitt’s home burned most of the print run. Though crude in execution and unburdened by considerations of scale or orientation, the detailed depiction of the roads, railways and many hotels and resorts would have made it reasonably useful to casual visitors but terribly dangerous to anyone using it as a guide to the back country.
During this period the transmission of the Romantic ethos across the Atlantic, the rise of a middle class with disposable income, the development of (relatively) rapid rail links to the coast, and well-timed works of literature such as Willey’s Incidents in White Mountain History (1856) transformed the region into a major destination for tourists and artists. The Leavitt maps, with their distinctive blend of information and decorative elements, were designed to cater to this growing market. Though stylistically similar, each was cut from an entirely new block.
David Tatham, “Franklin Leavitt’s Pictorial Maps of the White Mountains,” in Prints of New England, edited by Georgia Brady Barnhill (1991), p. 105-134 (fig. 6.10). OCLC # 16100270 and 57273236, giving examples at Dartmouth and the New Hampshire Historical Society. Not in Cobb, New Hampshire Maps.
Old folds and creases. Early scribbles in ink on verso, along with residue of glue and paper from where map was likely tipped into wraps.