An attractive and terrifically informative map of this important town on the Kennebec, famous for producing more than 5000 wooden ships since the 18th century. The map is very rare, and we have located but two examples held by American institutions, with none in Maine.
Walling’s map depicts the center of Bath at a terrific level of detail for the time. The very large scale of 330 feet to the inch, much larger than on most Walling town maps, permits him to show not only the street plan, public buildings and businesses, but also private landowners and even individual buildings in plan view. Of particular interest are the ferry across the Kennebec to Woolwich, the line of the Kennebec and Portland Railroad, and dozens of wharves, shipyards, and affiliated businesses lining the river bank. The wash color by ward and the seven pictorial vignettes of private residences, the Congregational Church and the Sagadahock House hotel add both visual appeal and documentary value.
This map is just one of several dozen large-scale maps of New England towns issued by Henry Frances Walling in the first half of the 1850s, including at least 15 in 1851 alone. Walling was arguably the most accomplished and interesting American mapmaker of the mid-late 19th century, in no small part because of his prolific output: Between 1848 and 1888 he produced perhaps 150 large-scale, separately-issued maps of American towns and counties; several seminal state maps; numerous state and county atlases; and many maps for the U.S. Geological Survey. But arguably his greatest impact was as a serial innovator. He helped pioneer new models of partnership between commercial, local, state and Federal mapping enterprises; demonstrated that commercial mapmakers could produce high-quality, low-cost maps by drawing on the work of government scientific agencies; was a leading advocate of applying geodetic survey methods and tools to local and regional surveys; and catalyzed the first topographical (i.e., three dimensional) survey of an American state.
This writer has found no biographical information on A.G. Gillet, who also collaborated with Walling on maps of Augusta, Maine and Fitchburg and Fall River, Massachusetts.
Catalogue of the American Books in the Library of the British Museum, p. 4. Antique Map Price Record lists one example on the market in the past 30 years, offered by High Ridge Books in 2006. Examples are also held by the American Antiquarian Society and Library of Congress (The LC example is not listed in Phillips, List of Maps of America), and may have been obtained from High Ridge Books in or around 2006. OCLC lists a single copy of the map, but the size suggests it is a reproduction. Not in Rumsey; or Thompson, Important Maine Maps, Books, Prints and Ephemera.
Background on Walling’s city plans may be found in Michael Buehler’s “Henry F. Walling and the Mapping of New England`s Towns, 1849-1857,” in The Portolan, no. 71 ?(Spring 2008), pp. 22-33 (Buehler mentions this plan of Bath on p. 25.) Chapter 20 of Walter Ristow’s, American Maps and Mapmakers provides a more general discussion of Walling’s career.
Usual cracking and scuffing, some minor staining, small losses reinstated with very minor image loss.