Great Fire of Chicago map to make $30,000?

A hand-coloured map of Chicago drawn up before the Great Fire of 1871 is set to cross the block at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

It’s valued at $20,000-30,000 ahead of the Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in Chicago on September 13.

Chicago map fire

Chicago lost much of its historic downtown area to the Great Fire of 1871 

Like many big cities before the introduction of fire codes, Chicago fell victim to its own lax building laws.  

Most of the city’s tenements were constructed from wood, while the roof tiles were coated with tar for waterproofing.

The fire started in a barn on DeKoven Street on October 8 and wasn’t extinguished until October 10. Drought conditions ensured it spread quickly.  

A 3.3 square mile radius of downtown was destroyed during the blaze, which also claimed the lives of 300 people.

In the aftermath, the city underwent substantial remodelling.

This map, by James T Palmatry, shows the city as it was in 1857 – shortly after the opening of the Illinois Central Railroad.

It’s one of only four surviving specimens and the only one left on the market.

The other three are all housed in high profile US institutions.

A wealth of other manuscript Americana will feature in the sale, including an aquatint engraving of the Carolina Turtle Dove – Plate XVII from John James Audubon’s Birds of America.

The piece is expected to bring up to $12,000.

We’ve got an intriguing selection of books and manuscripts for sale in our online store, click here to take a look.

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