Unusual 1887 Britton & Rey map of San Francisco with a rare depiction of the Bay District Racing Track.

Britton & Rey’s Guide Map of the City of San Francisco. 1887. Copyright. (with) Index to Street Guide Map of San Francisco, Cal. by Britton & Rey

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SKU: NL-00615 Categories: , Tag:
Cartographer(s): Britton & Rey
Date: 1887
Place: San Francisco
Dimensions: 61 x 49 cm (24 x 19.2 in)
Condition Rating: VG+
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This is one of the most attractive late 19th century maps of San Francisco we have seen. Rare: only 3 listings in OCLC.

All the hallmarks of pre-1906 maps of San Francisco are found on this map, stylishly and expertly presented by the preeminent engravers operating in the city at this time. Notable features include ranchos, the cemeteries at Lone Mountain, the Southern Pacific Railroad lines arriving from the southern peninsula, the Alms House Tract (Laguna Honda hospital today), Spring Valley Water Company reservoir, and more.

Several spurious street names are shown in the Marina, including Tonguin and Lewis. These were planned to be on landfill but were never actually created; Tonguin street is instead Marina Boulevard and Lewis is Marina Green Drive.

Also, interesting is the depiction of the Bay District Race Track (between First Avenue, Fulton Street, Fifth Avenue and Point Lobos Road), which opened in 1874 to great fanfare with a $25,000 race — the largest purse ever offered in America. By the time this map was published, the race track was near its end (officially in 1895), and indeed on the map we see the city grid superimposed on the course. By 1900, developer Fernando Nelson had purchased much of the area and begun building homes, many of which are still there today.


Britton & Rey

Britton & Rey (1852 – 1906) was a lithographic printing firm based in San Francisco and founded by Joseph Britton and Jacques Joseph Rey in 1852. Especially during the second half of the 19th century, Britton and Rey became the leading lithography firm in San Francisco, and probably California. Among their many publications were birds-eye-views of Californian cities, depictions of the exquisite landscapes, stock certificates, and no least maps. While Rey was the primary artist, Britton worked not only as the main lithographer but was essentially also the man running the business. In addition to their own material, the firm reproduced the works of other American artists like Thomas Almond Ayres (1816 – 1858), George Holbrook Baker (1824 – 1906), Charles Christian Nahl (1818 – 1878), and Frederick August Wenderoth (1819 – 1884). Following Rey’s death in 1892 Britton passed the form on to Rey’s son, Valentine J. A. Rey, who ran it until the great earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed most of the company’s assets.

Joseph Britton (1825 – July 18, 1901) was a lithographer and the co-founder of the prominent San Francisco lithography studio Britton and Rey. He was also a civic leader in San Francisco, serving on the Board of Supervisors and helping to draft a new city charter. In 1852, he became active in lithography and publishing, first under the name ‘Pollard and Britton,’ and then ‘Britton and Rey,’ a printing company founded with his friend and eventual brother-in-law Jacques Joseph Rey. Britton and Rey became the premier lithographic and engraving studio of the Gold Rush era, producing letter sheets, maps, and artistic prints.

Jacques Joseph Rey (1820 – 1892) was a French engraver and lithographer born in the Alsatian town of Bouxwiller. At the age of about 30, he emigrated to America, eventually settling in California. Here, he soon entered into a partnership with local entrepreneur and civic leader Joseph Britton. Three years later, Rey also married Britton’s sister, allowing his business partner and brother-in-law Britton to live in their house with them. Rey and Britton were not only an important part of the San Francisco printing and publishing scene but also owned a plumbing and gas-fitting firm. In the early years, both men would sometimes partner up with others on specific projects, but by the late 1860s, their partnership was more or less exclusive.

Condition Description

Folding map; minor wear.