Perhaps my experience in the antiques business hasnít exposed me to as many types of Americana items as it should have, because despite working tirelessly in the field for many years, I have never before had the pleasure of encountering a schoolgirl map. Drawn and painted in watercolors by Eliza Smith in Portland Maine in 1820, as noted by her signature at the bottom center, this outstanding example of this rare type of schoolgirl artistry survives in a rather excellent state of preservation. This is especially so when considering that this Federal period work on paper that has not, like most maps of the early 19th century, spent most of its life as a plate inside a book.
The graphics and colors are wonderful and there are features both unusual and endearing. First among them is the inclusion of significant mountain ranges. Second is the placement of the globes on pedestals. These two aspects of the design are out-of-the-ordinary according to at least one expert in maps. Also note that Eliza, who was probably between the ages of 8 and 14 at the time she executed this work, likely at a private school for girls.
But without question one of the most interesting things about the map is its date. On October 11th, 1820, the State of Maine had only existed for a period of about 7 months, having gained statehood on March 15th of that year. The 23rd state to join the Union, the 23rd star had only been on the flag since July 4th, a span of barely 3 months. There were Smiths among those persons who founded the city of Portland and one might expect that Eliza was a member of this family.
Mounting: The gilded frame dates to the period between 1820 and 1860. The work is laid over an acid-free backing and placed behind period glass with nice bubbling and imperfections. This can be changed to u.v. glass if you wish at no cost.