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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Advertisement for A. Finley’s Atlases (ca. 1830)

Posted by Darin Hayton on 08/15 at 12:32 PM

Anthony Finley was perhaps the most famous U.S. map maker during the early nineteenth century. He published large maps and atlases as well as pocket atlases for travelers. This small, quarto-sized advertisement announced his recent publications:



The first item, his Map of the United States was a huge, 26-square foot map, boasting a scale of 35 miles to the inch. Clearly not a pocket map. Indeed, it is hard to imagine where you would display or even look at such a map. You have to appreciate that Finley would sell it either “mounted and varnished” or “put up in a portable form,” for all those travelers who had to take their massive map along with them. No wonder it cost $8.00 (about $150 in today’s dollars).

The next two books had been published about five years earlier: A New General Atlas and his A Classical Atlas. Finley generously offered to bind these atlases together for “those who prefer them in one volume.” Total cost, $13.50 (nearly $260 in today’s dollars). (A New General Atlas is available online here; the map for Pennsylvania is here).

Despite the seemingly high price of these books, Finley’s maps and atlases appreciated nicely in value. All of Finley’s publications are currently selling rather large sums.

  • His pocket maps, which he sold for 75¢, are selling today for $220-$900.

  • His A New General Atlas is selling for anywhere from $8,000-$16,500 (and that is without the A Classical Atlas).

In addition to his atlases, Finley also printed other texts on natural history and general historical texts:

  • Harlan, Richard. Fauna Americana: being a description of the mammiferous animals inhabiting North America. Philadelphia: A. Finley, 1825.

  • Ferguson, Adam. An essay on the history of civil society. Philadelphia: A. Finley, 1819.

One final point: A. Finley is no longer located on the N.E. corner of Chestnut and Fourth Street in Philadelphia. That corner appears to be occupied by some recently built hotel.

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