This is a rare separately issued edition of the eminent cartographer Heinrich Kiepert’s map of the United States and Canada, published in 1875. It shows the entire continental United States, plus, the populated southern tier of Canada from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts. The map features fine, updated railway information, and shows that west of the Mississippi the railway system was still quite embryonic, with the notable exception of the completed and in-service line of the Central Pacific Railroad (opened in 1869), the first railway to cross North America. The surveyed but uncompleted line of the Southern Pacific Railroad, to Los Angeles, is shown, although it that would not be completed until 1883.
The present example is the 8th and, we gather, final issue the map, that was first issued in 1849, and then regularly updated. The map was issued separately, as here, with illustrated card covers, and as part of Kiepert’s Hand-Atlas der Erde und des Himmels. The separately issued editions are all quite uncommon.
The map would have been made primarily to satisfy the great curiosity regarding the United States and Canada that exited in Germany, as tens thousands of Germans each year immigrated to North America.
Heinrich Kiepert (1818 – 1899) was a German geographer and historian of unusual intellect and diversity of interests. Born in Berlin, he grew up in an affluent, culturally sophisticated family, mentored by leading academics and travelling widely. He studied history, geography and philology, with a focus on Greece and the Near East, at the Humboldt University of Berlin under the legendary co-founder of modern geography, Carl Ritter (1779 – 1759). He showed great talent as a cartographer and worked closely with many commercial mapmakers. His first major project was assisting Ritter in the production of his Atlas von Hellas und den hellenischen Kolonien (1840).
Between 1841 and 1848 Kiepert made four trips to Ottoman Europe and Asia Minor, and become a world-renowned expert on Turkey. This led him to produce his own cartographic works concerning the Ottoman Empire, including the Karte des osmanischen Reiches in Asien (1844); the Karte von Klein-Asien (1854); the Specialkarte vom Westlichen Kleinasien (1890-2) and his posthumously-published, monumental Karte von Kleinasien meist nach noch nicht oder in kleinstem Massstabe veroffentlichten Aufnahmen in 24 Blatt (1902-6).
Upon his return from the Near East, Kiepert became the head of the Geographisches Institut in Weimar and, in 1854, was appointed a full professor as the University of Berlin. He maintained a long association with the prominent Berlin map publisher Dietrich Reimer, who was responsible for issuing the present map. Kiepert was a remarkably adept editor of cartographic material, possessing an uncanny ability to select the best and most accurate information out of a variety of conflicting sources, resulting in maps of amazing authority and precision for their time.
Kiepert also produced excellent large-format maps of diverse parts of the world, including of the Russian Empire, Central America, as well as various parts of the Near East, Caucuses and the Mediterranean. Notably, the present map was one of Kiepert’s most highly regarded works. He also produced educational tomes, including, Lehrbuch der alten Geographie (1877); Leitfaden der alten Geographie (1879); and his enlarged atlas of the ancient world, Formae orbis antiqui (1894). Additionally, Kiepert produced many maps for the Baedeker travel guides.
Following his death, in 1899, Heinrich Kiepert’s cartographic work was ably continued by his son, Richard Kiepert (1846 – 1915), a professional geographer, who issued revised editions of his father’s maps.
References: N/A – present 1875 edition not traced.