County Atlas of California and Nevada
Spectacular advertising atlas published on the cusp of modernization and California’s economic rise, during a period of fading frontier attitude.
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This 63 page lithographed atlas includes colored maps of all 48 counties in California and 14 in Nevada (58 and 16 counties today, respectively). Each sheet shows railroads, roads, post offices, and stagecoach lines. Rail lines were spreading quickly throughout both states to reach new oil fields, mines, and farming communities, but there are still many locations shown accessible only by stagecoach, including Yosemite National Park (pg. 25). Distances between labeled points are helpfully provided, but they don’t reflect the time that it could take to reach remote places. Many factors, but primarily the quality of roads and weather, could drastically influence the length of a trip.
Opposite each map is a pragmatic advertisement from the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, called such because 10% of profits were paid to the widows and orphans of fallen firefighters. However, perhaps the most effective message are the two prints in the first few pages, which show a glimpse of the destruction wrought by the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Fires started as a result of the quake and quickly consumed nearly three quarters of the city. Most insurance companies didn’t indemnify earthquake damage, leading some unscrupulous owners of buildings still standing to set them alight. Ultimately, around $250 million dollars would be paid out in claims, leading to the bankruptcy of over 20 companies. The Fireman’s Fund office and documentation was destroyed, but it weathered the quake by taking claimants “on their word” and paying policyholders in a combination of cash and stock. The company would go on to insure much of the Hollywood silent film industry, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Spirit of St. Louis.
Publication Date: 1909
Author: E.E. Eitel
Sheet Width (in): 7
Sheet Height (in): 5
Condition Description: The atlas is in phenomenal condition, with slight wear to the binding edge of the cover a toned title page. Clean maps with excellent color.