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Yale University buys early Kootenay map

A rare copy of the most highly prized map of this area is now part of the Western Americana Collection at Yale University.
Yale University is now the proud owner of Perry’s Mining Map of West Kootenay

A rare copy of the most highly prized map of this area is now part of the Western Americana Collection at Yale University.

Perry’s Mining Map of West Kootenay was created in 1893 and unveiled that year at the Chicago’s World’s Fair. The full-colour depiction of local geography was drawn by T.P. O’Farrell based on survey notes by Charles E. Perry and lithographed by Rand and McNally.

It measures 26 by 40 inches and is renowned for its beauty and historical significance.

Many place names appear on the map for the first — and sometimes last — time, such as “Laprairie” for Salmo, “Cocklethorpe” for Crawford Bay, and “Lynchville” for Kootenay Bay.

It also includes detailed views of local mining camps, a long list of Slocan mining claims, as well as railways, wagon roads, trails, telephone, and telegraph lines.

But most people are especially drawn to the panel entitled “Our position on the planet” which appears to show West Kootenay – and more specifically Nelson – as the centre of the planet.

At the time of its creation, the Nelson Tribune called it “a masterpiece of draughtsman’s and engraver’s art. The taste with which it is got up makes it an admirable advertisement of the country and reflects great credit on the originators of the idea and upon Mr. O’Farrell to whom the beauty of the etching and originality of the design are due.”

The copy Yale has acquired came out of an estate sale in Nova Scotia last year, and has its original red cloth folder. It initially sold on eBay for more than $2,300 US to dealer Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc., of La Jolla, Calif.

Although it’s unclear how much Yale paid, it was listed for $6,500 US, and advertised as an “extraordinary map” and “one of the earliest obtainable printed maps to focus on the Kootenay mining regions.”

George Miles, curator of Yale’s Western Americana collection said in an email that he recently bought the map “to add to our various manuscripts, books, pamphlets, photos and maps about the Northwest.”

Only a handful of other copies are known to survive, most in libraries and archives. Touchstones Nelson, the Chamber of Mines of Southeastern BC, Vancouver Public Library, and Royal BC Museum each have one.

The map originally sold for $2.50.

This story will appear next week in the West Kootenay Advertiser.