BACHE, Alexander Dallas (1806-1867). Sketches accompanying the Annual Report of the Superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, 1851. 32nd Congress, 2nd Session, Executive Document 26. Washington D.C: 1851.

$ 6,500.00

4to., (11 2/8 x 9 2/8 inches). 58 fine lithographed maps, the majority large and folding (some browning throughout, some spotting to preliminaries). Original brown cloth, gilt (worn at the extremities, hinges weak).

Provenance: inscribed to Mr. Wahlgren with A.D. Bache's compliments' slip on the front paste-down.

House of Representatives issue. Loosely inserted is a broadside announcing the "Coast Survey Charts Published" dated Washington, March 15, 1853, and listing the agents from which they may be purchased.

This atlas includes very detailed maps of the eastern seaboard from Portland, Maine to the Florida Keys, round the pan-handle into the Gulf of Mexico with maps of the Mississippi delta, through to Mobile, Galveston, and as far as the Aransas Pass off the coast of Texas. The maps of the western seaboard are less detailed and not continuous, but include a number of the coast of California, and particularly San Francisco, San Diego, and the mouth of the Columbia River.

During a European tour in 1842 Bache met with "some of Europe's notable savants, including Alexander von Humboldt, François Arago, and Karl Friedrich Gauss, and he visited key scientific institutions. The trip intensified a commitment to raising the status of science in the United States...Bache saw an opportunity to realize these goals with the sudden death, in 1843, of Ferdinand Hassler, a Swiss émigré who had become superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey after its establishment in 1807. Bache and his colleagues believed that the coast survey could be used to gain support for American science, especially to obtain federal patronage. After a successful campaign waged by his friends and colleagues, Bache became superintendent in December 1843...During the two decades after gaining control of the coast survey, Bache transformed it into the most powerful scientific institution in the United States. By the late 1850s Congress annually appropriated approximately $500,000 for the survey, and it supported more scientists than any other institution in antebellum America; Bache thus became the most important patron in this period. His work, which sought to emulate European practices, was praised by European savants. In addition to hiring scientifically trained personnel, Bache employed scientists from outside the survey as consultants. By patronizing such scientific fields as hydrography, geodesy, astronomy, terrestrial magnetism, tidology (the study of the tides), meteorology, and natural history, Bache helped shape a geographical style for antebellum American science" (Hugh Richard Slotten for DNB).