“The premier map for its period” (Rumsey)

Henry Schenk Tanner / Engraved by H.S. Tanner, assisted by E.B. Dawson, W. Allen & J. Knight, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: BY H.S. Tanner, 1832. Philadelphia, 1829/1832.
Third edition. Engraving with etched detail in cartouche, 46 3/4”h x 62”w plus margins, full original color. Segmented and mounted on linen, with marbled paper self-covers and red roan clamshell case.

A fine example of one of the great national maps of the early 19th century, described by Rumsey as “one of best early large maps of the United States and the premier map for its period, without equal until Mitchell produced the first edition of his Reference and Distance Map of the United States in 1834.”

The map depicts the United States at a temporary “resting point” between the major territorial acquisition of the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty, by which East and West Florida were obtained from Spain, and the 1845 annexation of Texas. It shows the eastern two-thirds of the present-day United States, extending as far west as Kansas and the upper reaches of the Missouri River. Cities, towns, an villages are identified; county, state and territorial boundaries are marked; and symbols are used to display the network of roads, railroads and canals that increasingly were binding them into a nation.

The map is heavily augmented by no fewer than 16 insets, including maps of the “Oregon and Mandan Districts” and the “South Part of Florida,” as well as 14 plans of major cities including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. (with a small plan of the Capitol), but—showing the shifting balance of power in the country—also including the western metropoli of Cincinnati, New Orleans and Pittsburg. Demonstrating the nation’s ongoing fascination with internal improvements, the map bears inset elevation views of the Erie, the Ohio, the Chesapeake & Ohio, and other major canals. The lovely cartouche depicts deer grazing in a pastoral setting, though three tiny freight trains visible in the far background—a fitting metaphor for American progress.

Rather odd features of the map are the purely fictitious constructs of the “Oregon,” “Mandan” and “Sioux” and other “Districts” in the Midwest and West. As explained—rather unsatisfactorily–by Tanner,

“The names of Oregion, Sioux, Huron &c. applied to the unappropriated western lands of the United States, have been adopted for the purpose of more convenient reference, although not recognized by any law of the United States. To distinguish these sections from the organized Territories, the adjunct, “District” is used.”

According to Ristow Tanner revised and reissued his map in editions of 1830, 1832, 1834, 1836, 1841, and 1844. In addition an unrecorded 1845 edition has recently come to light. Offered here is an example of the 1832 third edition.

Tanner’s map is best understood as the commercial successor to John Melish’s 1818 Map of the United States. While Melish’s map is remarkable for depicting the country as a coast-to-coast empire, at a scale of 1:2,000,000 Tanner’s is vastly more detailed in every respect, particularly regarding the careful treatment of the nation’s transportation network. In this way the Tanner map is far more similar to—and likely in some ways derivative of—Abraham Bradley’s 1825 Map of the United States and J. & A. Walker’s 1827 map of the same title.

Henry Schenck Tanner (1786-1858)
Tanner was active as a map maker, engraver, and publisher during the first half of the 19th century. His prolific and high-quality merit an entire chapter in Ristow’s American Maps and Mapmakers, where he is described as “a principal contributor to the golden age [of American cartography] and one of the most productive and successful cartographic publishers of the period.” (p. 191) In addition to the map offered here, he is best known for his American Atlas (1819-23), which set a new standard for American atlas production.

Howes, U.S.-Iana, #T-23 and T-28. Phillips, Maps of America, p. 885. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, pp. 198-199. Rumsey, #4406.


Some splits to linen and selvage coming free in places, else excellent.