As with all Presdee & Edwards maps, the very large scale of 16 rods (264 feet) to the inch is sufficient to provide immense detail, including not only the street plan and rail lines, but property lines, land owners, and the placement and footprints of individual structures. Of particular interest are the Lake Champlain wharves and the rail facilities–reflecting Burlington’s 19th-century position as a major shipping hub—as well as the grounds of the University of Vermont at far right.
The map’s visual appeal is enhanced by a lush foliate border and pictorial vignettes of the University of Vermont, several very fine residences, and the “Bank Block.” At left is a long list of well over 100 subscribers, representing Burlington’s business and professional elite as well as a wide variety of trades.
The firm of Presdee & Edwards
Presdee & Edwards were surveyors and–for a brief time—mapmakers and map publishers based in New York and Jersey City. Between 1852 and 1854 they produced at least 20 maps of New England towns, including two in Massachusetts (Northampton and Greenfield), four in New Hampshire, thirteen in Vermont and one in Maine. Most are rare, some exceptionally so: Antique Map Price Record lists a mere dozen of their maps having appeared on the market in the past 30 years, 8 of which appeared at the Parkinsons auction of November 2003.
Like other mapmakers of the period, the Presdee & Edwards business model relied on the sale of advance subscriptions, often overseen by an agent, as was the case with this map of Burlington Vermont. The following advertisement appeared in the Burlington Courier for December 2, 1852:
“MAP OF BURLINGTON.—We understand that Mr. A. L Forrest, Agent for Messrs. Presdee & Edwards, Civil Engineers, Surveyors and Map publishers of New York who is now staying at the American Hotel here, proposes to publish a large and beautiful map of Burlington, from actual survey, showing all streets and dwelling houses, public buildings, building lots, &c. The survey will be commenced as soon as he can be assured of the sale of two hundred copies. From the specimens he has shown us and the high reputation with which he is connected, we feel assured he will accomplish the object of his undertaking in a creditable manner….
“Messrs. Presdee & Edwards have already made maps of Brattleboro’, Rutland, Bennington, Montpelier, and St. Albans, in our state, and as far as we can judge they are as accurate, as they certainly are beautiful in execution. The map of Brattleboro’ can be examined at this office.”
Cobb, Checklist of Maps of Vermont, #275 (Library of Congress, Dartmouth, Vermont Historical Society, and University of Vermont). OCLC adds an example at Harvard (as of September 2018), and this writer is aware of two held in private collections. Antique Map Price Record lists but a single example appearing on the market in the past three decades, which achieved a hammer price of $1600 at the 2003 Parkinson sale (That example is likely the one held in one of the aforementioned private collections.)