George Woolworth Colton and Charles B. Colton

Colton & Co: The Colton mapmaking company was founded by Joseph Hutchins Colton in 1831. A native son of Massachusetts, Colton set up his firm in the metropolis of New York, drawing at first on established cartographers and engravers (e.g. David H. Burr and Samuel Stiles) to license maps. By the 1840s, however, the Colton firm was producing its own maps. They produced anything the market desired, from massive and impressive wall-maps to pockets guides, folding maps, immigrant guides, and atlases. One of the things that set the Colton company aside from many of its contemporaries in terms of quality, was the insistence that only steel plate engravings be used for Colton maps. These created much more well-defined print lines, allowing even minute features and labels to stand out clearly.

In the 1850s Colton’s two sons, George Woolworth and Charles B., were brought on board to the firm. This inaugurated a process of expansion in which the company began taking international commissions and producing wholly independent maps and charts.

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