GODDARD, George H. Britton & Rey’s Map of the State of California. San Francisco: Britton & Rey, 1857.

$ 16,500.00

Single sheet, (31 x 25 ¼ inches). Fine folding lithographed map with original hand color in full (repaired tear, some browning and spotting). Original brown cloth with printed paper label (a bit rubbed).

Provenance: From the important cartographical library of Warren Heckrotte, his sale, Rare Cartography, Exploration and Voyages, Part II, December 3, 2015, Lot 153. From the distinguished library of Thomas W. Streeter, his bookplate to the front pastedown. With the label of J.J. LeCount Bookbinder San Francisco on front pastedown.


First edition. Important map of California in first edition, with very distinguished provenance. Noted in California 49 as "the first reasonably accurate and complete map of the state. Towns, great and small, county boundaries, stage and wagon roads, including a few that traverse the Sierra Nevada, and California's first railroad from Sacramento to Folsom appear. None of the errors found on Eddy's map are present. Lake Tahoe... is shown at its correct location..." Warren Heckrotte notes that "This is the Streeter-Grabhorn copy and the copy that Wheat says he used for making his description in Maps of the California Gold Region. The map is rare."

“In 1857 the state of knowledge of Sierra Nevada geography was outlined in the most detailed map of California to date, a map prepared by civil engineer, surveyor, architect, and artist George H. Goddard. Goddard was born in Bristol, England, and was educated at Oxford. He, like many others, was drawn to California by the prospect of making his fortune in the gold rush. In 1850, at the age of 33, he sailed to California by way of Cape Horn. The journey from Plymouth to San Francisco, with an eight-day stopover in the Falkland Islands before rounding the Horn, took 180 days. His wife and two children remained in Europe until 1858, when the family was finally reunited. Within a year after their arrival in California a third child was born.

“Goddard went to the goldfields and became a partner in a drugstore in Columbia, but by 1853 he had begun a career as a surveyor. He also maintained a professional interest in architecture, and began a serious interest in landscape painting. His first expedition was a survey of a possible railroad route over the Sierra at Sonora Pass, a route already traversed by a wagon road. The work led Goddard to other mapping excursions around the state. All the while he took copious notes and measurements that would help him later in compiling the California map.

“In 1855, working for the California Surveyor General, he made a reconnaissance survey of the route over Carson Pass, and also surveyed the boundary between California and Utah Territory (in what is now western Nevada). For this work Goddard carried altitude and azimuth transits and chronometers, so that he could accurately determine by astronomical observations the latitude and longitude of important survey stations. When location and circumstance permitted, he checked the chronometers against time signals received on newly erected telegraph lines…

“The Goddard map of the state of California, published in 1857 by order of the Surveyor General of California [as here], is based partly on the Fremont map of 1848, though many details have been added and other improvements have been made. The map (Goddard, 1857) shows no trails crossing the Sierra in the 200-mile span of the range crest from Sonora Pass, north of Yosemite, to Walker Pass, 50 miles south of Owens Lake. No habitation is shown in Owens Valley. The U.S. Army’s Fort Independence is not shown; it was established five years later, on July 4, 1862, as a result of skirmishes between settlers and Indians. The main settlement in the Central Valley of California adjacent to the parks area was Visalia (spelled ‘Visaija’ on the map). Fresno, Bakersfield, and Merced had not yet been settled. The map shows Tulare Lake to be about 40 miles long, whereas on the Fremont map it is 60 miles long. This seeming discrepancy reflects the extreme shallowness of the lake and its great expansion over flat ground during wet seasons. In early days, prior to the construction of dams, levees, and irrigation canals, much of the Central Valley was flooded during wet winters, and travel was at best uncertain.

“Compared with the Fremont map, the Goddard map shows more place names in the region of the two southern parks. That part of the San Joaquin River having its headwaters in the Sierra is named, and the name King River is used (as on Blake’s map) in place of Fremont’s ‘Lake Fork.’ Some of the main river names now in use are coupled with other names, such as Kaweah or Pipyuma River, and Kern or Porsiuncula River. Goddard’s map does not depict the giant south-trending canyon of the Kern River in the heart of the southern Sierra. The range west of the canyon, the Great Western Divide, and that east of the canyon, the main Sierra Crest, form a formidable double crest to the range that was not yet known” (James Gregory Moore, “Exploring the Highest Sierra,” pp. 36-37). Howell, California 50:492. Peters, California on Stone, p. 124. Phillips (America), p. 185. Rumsey 2901. Streeter Sale 2819. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West 921 & Vol. IV, pp. 59-63. Wheat, Maps of the California Gold Region 302. Wheat, Twenty-Five California Maps 22.