EMORY, William Hemsley (1811-1887). Report on the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey. Washington: Cornelius Wendell, printer, 1857.

  • $ 6,000.00
    Unit price per 


EMORY, William Hemsley (1811-1887). Report on the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, made under the Direction of the Secretary of the Interior. House of Representatives Ex. Doc. No. 135, 34th Congress, 1st Session. Washington: Cornelius Wendell, printer, 1857.


2 volumes bound in 3, as issued. Large 4to., (11 2/8 x 8 7/8 inches). Large folding lithographed map of the "United States and their Territories between the Mississippi and the Pacific Ocean and part of Mexico", the RARE, often missing, large lithographed folding "Map Illustrating the General Geological features of the Country West of the Mississippi River" with printed colour, by James Hall, J.P. Lesley after Emory (short tear near gutter), 9 steel-engraved plates of views,12 tinted lithographs views and  portraits of Indians, 33 engraved plates with 66 images, one long folding lithographed plate of profiles near the 32nd parallel, one long folding lithographed barometric chart, one full-page map showing California, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, 21 steel-engraved paleontological plates, 61 lithographed botanical plates, 75 steel-engraved plates of specimens, and one view of cacti, 27 steel-engraved plates of animals observed on the boundary, many showing details of their bone structure, 25 lithographed plates of birds with original hand-colour, 41 steel-engraved plates of reptiles, 41 steel-engraved plates of fish, and numerous wood-engraved illustrations in text. Modern grey morocco backed, marbled paper boards, cloth slipcase.

Provenance: with Heaston, 5/89; from the important cartographical library of Warren Heckrotte, his sale, Rare Cartography, Exploration and Voyages, 3rd December, 2015, lot 17

First Edition, House Issue. Report on government explorations in the Southwest, noteworthy for the striking illustrations as well as the text, and with two important maps.

"William Hemsley Emory held prominent positions in the U.S. Boundary Commission throughout its duration and has been credited with the achievement of the boundary survey more than any other one person. Earlier experience had prepared Emory well for his service on the boundary. When the Corps of Topographical Engineers was formed in 1838, he was appointed first lieutenant, and he was assigned to assist in making a map from surveys by Joseph Nicollet, a French scientist who introduced new scientific methods of cartography to the United States. Emory also compiled a regional map of Texas, served as a principal assistant on the northeast boundary survey between the United States and the British Provinces, and acted as chief engineer officer on the U.S. Army's march to California during the U.S.-Mexican War, producing an important map of the army's route across the border region. Thus to his work on the United States-Mexican boundary, Emory brought his training in scientific and mathematical cartography, experience in boundary surveying, and authoritative knowledge of the borderlands (Rebert, p. 22). 

"The U.S. approach to the survey was based on a plan devised by Emory. En route to California, Emory drew up a comprehensive plan for the boundary survey that included astronomy, topography and demarcation of the line, and auxiliary scientific activities. The location of the line would depend upon astronomy…Because the boundary from the Pacific Ocean to the mouth of the Rio Bravo would extend for nearly two thousand miles, it would be necessary to connect the astronomical stations in a geodetic survey. Calculations employing astronomical data to determine positions, directions, and distances would have to be formulated to take into account the curvature of the earth; thus a more complex mathematics would be required than that used for plane surveys of small areas, based on the assumption that the earth's surface is flat…

"Emory's plans for topographical surveying were limited. He proposed that 'all determinations of the line of actual boundary, and the topography for one mile on each side, must be based on actual measurement,' and that each surveying party would be required to make sketches of the country and barometric leveling of the section surveyed 'and note the general character of the country, in its applicability to agriculture, roads and navigation.' Each survey party would also be required to keep meteorological records. Emory thus directed much of the topographers' effort toward auxiliary scientific activities" (Rebert, pp. 27-28). Paula Rebert, "La Gran Linea: Mapping the United States - Mexico Boundary, 1849-1857). Deák Picturing America 649, 650; Howes E146; Raines, p.76; Wagner-Camp 291; Wheat Transmississippi 916 & 922; Goetzman, Army Explorations in the American West; Martin & Martin, Maps of Texas and the Southwest, Plate 44 for map. Catalogued by Kate Hunter