Philadelphia: H.C. Carey & I. Lea, 1823. Letterpress title (copyright notice on verso), 1p. advertisement (verso blank), 1p. table of contents (verso blank). Forty-six double-page handcolored engraved maps of the United States, all but one with borders of letterpress descriptive text; uncolored double-page engraved view showing the comparative heights of mountains throughout the world; handcolored double-page engraved table showing the comparative lengths of the principal rivers worldwide; five letterpress tables (four double-page [three of these handcolored]); 18pp. of letterpress text. Mounted on guards throughout. Modern half calf and marbled boards, spine gilt, leather label. Dampstaining along lower edge, causing chipping to initial leaves. Closed tear in bottom margin of first map, repaired with tissue. Very light offsetting from maps. Some dust soiling, light tanning and foxing. Good plus. Item #WRCAM43415A
A handsome atlas of the Americas, with individual color maps of each state in the Union, including a seminal map of the West by Stephen H. Long. At the time of publication this was the best and most detailed atlas to be produced in the United States, with substantial historical background text accompanying each map. Fielding Lucas, the major Baltimore printer, was the principal engraver.
Among the most noted maps in the atlas is Major Stephen H. Long's "Map of Arkansa and other Territories of the United States." That map, which depicts the Missouri basin between Nashville in the east, the Mandan villages in the north, and the Rocky Mountains in the west, was based on the surveys conducted by Long on his expeditions of 1819 and 1820. The map published in Carey & Lea's atlas preceded the official account of that expedition by expedition botanist Edwin James, which includes a smaller map with similar detail, titled "Country drained by the Mississippi Western Section." Carey & Lea's 1823 publication of James' ACCOUNT perhaps explains the prior inclusion of this map with Long expedition information in their atlas.
On this famous map is the printed legend, which would perpetuate a myth for many years to come, identifying the high plains as the "Great American Desert." Carey & Lea's atlas was first issued in 1822; this is the second issue, with revised states of three maps (Maine, North Carolina, and Louisiana), with the same printing of the remaining maps and a cancel title. HOWES C133, "aa." PHILLIPS ATLASES 1373a. SABIN 15055. WHEAT TRANSMISSISSIPPI 348, 352.