Telling the story of 200 years  of White Mountain History
                           1853 Bond Map

     George P. Bond. Map of the White Mountains of  
  New Hampshire
. Cambridge: John Bartlett, 1853.
              1 inch = ca. 2.3 miles. 38.7 x 42.2 cm.

                           Courtesy of Harvard College

George Philips Bond (1825-1865) was the second director of the Harvard College Observatory, from 1859 to 1865, and he was the son of the first director. His first recorded visit to the White Mountains was in 1849, and his last in 1864, a few months before his death. In 1851, as he visited the leading observatories in Europe, he took time out to visit the Alps and to hike around Chamonix. Even before arriving there, he was contemplating undertaking a survey for this map. Bond’s map, based upon original surveys made in 1850 and 1852, was published in July 1853. It is the first topographical map of the region. The engravings on the reverse of scenes of the White Mountains, by Benjamin Champney (1817 – 1900), then just beginning his illustrious career as a White Mountain artist, give this something of the character of a souvenir map as well as a topographic map. (The Champney illustrations can be found at our site for White Mountain Prints.) Hachures indicate merely the location, but not the size or shape of the mountains.  Roads, railroads, rivers and streams, and inns are indicated. Bond intentionally reverses the labels of Mount Adams and Mount Jefferson because of a confusion over the names that predates the map and that the map did much to perpetuate. (The names of the Presidential peaks, apart from Mount Washington, had been assigned by an exploring party from the town of Lancaster in 1820.) There is no indication of direction, but north is at the top. All elevations are rounded to the nearest hundred feet. This modesty in the precision of the elevation determinations is unique in the history of White Mountain cartography. Many of these elevations, determined by theodolite and reasonably accurate when compared with modern values, were used by subsequent White Mountain cartographers. The hachures representing the mountains seem to do little more than indicate their location; there is no representation of size or steepness. The railroad line into Gorham is depicted; this opened for service precisely two years before the publication of the map. This map was Bond’s only publication for the general public. It is probable that Bartlett, the publisher, was the Cambridge bookseller who originated the Familiar Quotations.  For more on the history of this map, see Adam Jared Apt, “Harvard Astronomer George Phillips Bond and His Role in Mapping the White Mountains, 1852-1876,” in Historical New Hampshire, vol. 57, nos. 1 & 2 (Concord: New Hampshire Historical Society, Spring/Summer 2002), pp. 39-56, and Apt, “The Manuscript Notebooks of George P. Bond, 1850-1853,” in Appalachia, vol. 54, no. 1 (Boston: Appalachian Mountain Club, December 2007), pp. 66-84.


Other states and editions

The map was issued in boards covered with cloths of different colors. In some copies, the Champney illustrations are printed on the reverse of the map; in others, these are printed on a separate sheet.  It was reissued on India paper, unaltered, and tipped into some, but not all copies of the first printing (first thousand) of Benjamin Willey, Incidents in White Mountain History (Boston, 1856), which was illustrated with the same Champney engravings in all printings. A second edition of the map mentioned in passing by Thomas Starr King, The White Hills (North Conway and Boston, 1859), p. 44 note, is almost certainly a phantom. 

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