WELCOME Pennsylvania County Atlas Sampler WELCOME

This county atlas sampler gives some idea of what these books look like. An example of each type of page included is displayed. The standard page size was about 17 by 14 inches, or folio size. Lithograph scenes appear in some atlases, but not all. Compared to a Currier & Ives print, say, they are rather crude but still quite picturesque. Only a few atlases contain color lithographs. Maps were always hand colored using stencils which was cheaper than color printing by lithography.


Cover The covers are pressed cardboard, the same as hardback covers today, and of dark color. An abbreviated title of the atlas with author and publisher appears in lighter type. In the case of J. A. Howden, who put out this atlas of Warren County, the author and publisher were one. This cover is in decent shape.
Title Page Title pages could be quite ornate with insets of scenes, or a picture of the author. This one is the usual plainer type. The printing company would always be listed. On this page, Beach Nichols is the author, A. Pomeroy is the publisher, the maps and drawings were 'Eng'd' by Worley and Bracher, and the atlas was printed by F. Bourquin, all from Philadelphia.
Table of Contents All atlases have a table of contents, such as this one from the Jefferson County atlas. The page numbers are usually not consecutive. Blank pages, i.e. the verso of maps, were sometimes counted and sometimes not counted. Page numbers could be missing because they were set aside for maps or lithographs that were never made. Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to tell if an atlas is complete when the table of contents page is missing. (Well, obviously it isn't complete, at least one page is missing.) As if the page confusion wasn't enough, a few atlases had loose maps inserted within them after binding. Sometimes the name of the map, but no page number, is on the table of contents. In some other cases, there is no listing of the inserted map at all. These loose maps are usually missing from existing atlas copies.
History Some atlases contain a short history of the county, such as the sketch of Indiana County history presented here. These histories were written by a local history buff or by the atlas author.
Advertisements Almost, but not quite, all atlases carry ads. The atlases were financed by selling ad space and lithographs of views to individuals and businesses. Here is an ad page from the Clarion County Atlas.
A United States Map Some, but not all, atlases have a map of the United States. The same map was usually used in all the author or publisher's atlases. This map, from Caldwell's Clarion County atlas, appears in most of Caldwell's atlases. For some mysterious reason, it contains an inset of Newfoundland, of all places.
A Miscellaneous Map A few atlases also have one or two miscellaneous maps that have little to do with the county. This railroad map appears in the atlas of Clarion County.
A State Map Almost all the atlases contain a state map, only a few did not. The state map made by O. W. Gray & Son of Philadelphia was used in many atlases, and appears in this one of Westmoreland County.
A County Map All of the atlases include a county map, here is the one in the Crawford County atlas. This county, located in the northwest, was surveyed in square sections, as this map shows.
A City Map Atlases from counties lucky enough to contain a city usually have a large double page city map. This map of Williamsport, in Lycoming County, is surrounded by ads, not the usual practice. Williamsport, of course, is where the Little League World Series is held.
A Borough Map The maps of villages, towns, boroughs, and townships took up most of the pages in an atlas. This is a map of Cherry Tree and Hillsdale from the Indiana County atlas. Both towns are small, so every building and lot can be shown. Cherry Tree was a reference point for the Purchase of 1768. The boundaries of Indiana, Clearfield, and Cambria counties were modified after this map was made so all of Cherry Tree lies in Indiana County today.
A Township Map Townships and boroughs are the lowest level of local governance in Pennsylvania. All counties have townships and at least one borough. Hempfield Township lies in Westmoreland County. The scale of this map is small because Hempfield is a large township.
Introductory Print Some atlases contain an introductory print. This unusual example is from the Jefferson County atlas. Unusual because it is two pages and in color, all other lithographs in the atlas are in the more usual black & white.
Courthouse Print A courthouse print appears in some atlases, such as this one of York County. One might think a courthouse view should appear in all atlases. One would be wrong; it only got in if someone paid. In this view, the two gentlemen who paid are prominently displayed.
Business Print Business prints were purchased as a form of advertising, such as this one from the Jefferson County atlas. A prosperous business might buy a two page spread, or one page as here. A cheap businessman might settle for just his name on the ad page. A cheaper businessman would not bother at all. This business is the 19th century equivalent of an automobile plant.
Church Print Churches had to pay just like everyone else and a half page view was cheaper than a full page. Clarion County views are shown here because it was one of the few atlases with color lithographs, printed by Otto Krebs of Pittsburgh.
Residence Print Again, these color views are from the Clarion County atlas. The color is rather pale in this copy. The quality of the color and of the images varies from atlas to atlas and even within different copies of the same atlas. Most of these county atlases came out in the centennial year of 1876 and people paid to have views of their homes out of civic pride, and perhaps just a little boastfulness. These homes are mirror images of one another and makes one question the accuracy of the representation.
Farm Print A farm is a combination business and residence. There are usually many farm views in those atlases that have lithograph prints. This one page view from the Washington County atlas is especially comprehensive, showing livestock, buildings, residence, and a panoramic view.
Panoramic Print This print is a panoramic view of a fairgrounds in Beaver County. The view point is almost high enough to be a 'bird's eye view' lithograph, which became all the rage from around 1870 to 1920 and are more detailed than the views appearing in the county atlases. This Beaver County atlas is one of the few with color prints.
Another Business Print This beautiful color view of the Western File Works appears in the front of the Beaver County atlas, and is as good as any Currier & Ives. It was 'engraved, lithographed, and printed' by Otto Krebs of Pittsburgh.

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