Rare Pre-Fire Chicago Map by J.T. Palmatary  

Rare Pre-Fire Chicago Map by J.T. Palmatary

One of Four Pre-Fire Chicago Maps by J.T. Palmatary Highlights Leslie Hindman Auctioneers' September 13 Auction

The September 13 Fine Books and Manuscripts auction will include J.T. Palmatary’s birds-eye view of pre-fire Chicago. The Chicago map was printed in 1857 by Braunhold & Sonne and is one of four known copies. Three other copies are held by the Library of Congress, the Newberry Library and the Chicago History Museum. The example to be offered by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers is the only obtainable copy of the map in private hands. None other can be traced back to auction in the past 100 years.

Pre-Fire Chicago Map by J.T. Palmatary

Palmatary is known for his aerial views of cities. The birds-eye view of Chicago was finished just one year after the Illinois Central Railroad was completed, which appears in the foreground of the map. Opened in 1856, the Illinois Central was the longest railroad in the world, running 705 miles from Cairo, Illinois. The tracks were built on trestles, protected by breakwaters and dikes, on a strip of land several hundred feet out into Lake Michigan. The lakefront land was originally designated for public use in 1836, but after months of fighting with City Council the Illinois Central was granted use of the land.


Another notable feature of the Chicago map is an area called “The Sands,” visible in the lower right-hand corner. Notorious in its time, the area was known for having a high concentration of brothels, gambling dens, saloons and inexpensive motels. In 1871, during the Great Chicago Fire, the Sands became a point of refuge for displaced Chicagoans. Palmatary detailed other notable places in the city, as depicted on the map via a lower margin legend. The view includes street names, homes, churches and points of industrial interest.


Palmatary’s Chicago map, estimated at $20,000 – 30,000, is one of over 100 maps that appear in the cartography session of the Fine Books and Manuscripts sale. Others include DuVal’s Le Canada faict par le Sr. de Champlain, Paris, 1664 ($15,000 – 20,000); Coronelli’s Globe Gore: The Great Lakes and Mississippi, 1688 ($5,000 – 7,000) and Schedel’s World Map, 1493 ($5,000 – 7,000).

Travels in Egypt and Nubia by Frederick Lewis Norden

Other sessions included in the sale are fine printed books, Americana and natural history. Highlights from the fine printed books session include a section of exploration documentation such as Travels in Egypt and Nubia by Frederick Lewis Norden, estimated at $4,000 – 6,000. Other examples of printed books include Raphael’s Loggie di Rafaele nel Vaticano, Rome, 1772, estimated at $6,000 – 8,000. Fine bindings include an example of 18th Century German mosaique binding estimated at $800 – 1,200.


The Americana session will offer a first English printing of the Declaration of Independence, The Remembrancer, London, 1776 (estimated at $1,500 – 2,500) and a copy of Abraham Lincoln’s Speech of Hon. Abraham Lincoln, Delivered in Springfield…July 17, 1858, estimated at $600 – 800. Offered in the natural history session will be Audubon’s Carolina Turtle Dove, watermarked 1833, with a presale estimate of $8,000 – 12,000.

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