184-year-old map finds its way to auction

DELAWARE, Ohio — A rare, 184-year-old map that captures a critical point in Northeast Ohio history will soon be unveiled as it prepares for a May auction with expected bids as high as $50,000.

The 1826 Savery-Sumner map, titled “Map Of The Western Reserve Including the Fire Lands in Ohio,” is one of the earliest locally printed maps of the Western Reserve, and is truly distinguished by watercolor embellishments added at a later time, possibly by schoolgirls. The map will be auctioned by Garth’s Auctions Inc. at its Annual Early American and Ohio Valley Auction on May 29.

In the years following American independence, the Western Reserve, though little known, was of increasing importance as settlers moved westward. The map represents a turning point in Ohio history, as it was critical not only to inform and guide the pioneers, but for attracting them to these areas. Near the end of the Revolutionary War, the state of Connecticut set aside land at the westernmost portion of the Western Reserve, known as the Fire Lands, to compensate those who lost their homes to British raids.

Garth’s Auctions describes this map as extremely scarce, but with its watercolor decoration, it is seemingly unprecedented.

“This is a very rare, first-edition map that does not often come to auction,” said Richard “Jeff” Jeffers, CEO and Principal Auctioneer at Garth’s. “It is a critical element of Northeast Ohio history, detailing not only the frontier lands of the Western Reserve, but the ‘Fire Lands’ that were set aside for Connecticut residents whose homes were destroyed by fires during the Revolutionary War.”

This map was most likely originally used in an academy. It was mounted on linen, comprising about one-third of the space between the hangers. The remaining area was then pieced together from nine watercolor drawings, presumably by one or more of the students, including two strips of flowers; two sprays of flowers; a basket of strawberries; a shepherdess; Queen Elizabeth; a tableau (the figures are labeled “Peace,” “Plenty,” “Justice,” “Liberty,” “Religion” and “Hope”); and a landscape that is labeled “Lady of the Woods,” which may be a romanticized view of the Lake Erie shoreline.

The combination of the New England-flavored watercolor decorations with the map of the Western Reserve make this object an exceptional artifact of the settlement of Northeastern Ohio by Connecticut emigres and the transmission of culture and style from east to west.

Described as “the finest map by an Ohio engraver and pioneer printer,” by Ernest J. Wessen, the proprietor of Midland Rare Book Company in Mansfield, Ohio, this decorated map is illustrated and discussed in the book, “Ohio Is My Dwelling Place: Schoolgirl Embroideries 1800-1850.”

For more information on Garth’s Auctions and their upcoming sales, visit http://www.garths.com.

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