NC cartobibliography: Anthony Finley

1824 map of North Carolina published by Anthony Finley

The 1820s saw the maturation of cartographic publishing in the United States, heralding the “Golden Age of American Cartography”.1  Atlas publishers in the first years of this era included, Carey & Lea, Fielding Lucas, Henry Tanner, and Anthony Finley.

1824 map of North Carolina published by Anthony Finley
Image courtesy of David Rumsey

The above map of North Carolina was published in the 1824 first edition of Anthony Finley’s A New General Atlas Comprising a Complete Set of MapsThe map measures 23 x 30 cm and is handcolored by county. The plate underwent several revisions during its use over the next 20+ years. One can identify the state of a given copy of this map by the following features:

State 1:   1824 – Does not show Davidson County

State 2:   1824-1830 – Shows Davidson County and Greensboro (in Guilford Co.)

State 3:   1831-1836 – Extensive detail added in surrounding states, including “Georgia”. Macon County added in western NC.

State 4:   1842 – dashed lines added to indicate geological zones; map is colored by geological zone rather than by county.

State 5:   1845-1846 – Map again colored by county; many new counties and place names added. New counties include Cherokee, Yancy [sic], McDowell, Henderson, Cleveland, Caldwell, Catawba, Davie, Stanly, Union. New outer border, likely via geometric lathe.

A few additional distinguishing features,  the publication history for each state, and links to high-resolution images of each state are available on this pdf.  Please note that the information provided may not include every change to the plate, but is sufficient to identify the different states. If anyone identifies a state of the map not recorded in the spreadsheet, please let us know via the “What’s on your mind?” comment box below.

Finley’s map of North Carolina was also sold separately as a pocket map, but no surviving copies have been located.

Who was Anthony Finley?

Very little information can be found, and some frequently repeated information (possibly including this very post!) is inaccurate. He presumably was the Anthony Finley born on 25 April 1784, in Philadelphia, baptized on 1 August 1784 in Saint Michael’s and Zion Church, and who died in Philadelphia of a “lingering illness” on 9 June 1836. He apparently was a publisher throughout most, if not all, of his adult life. According to Princeton University Press, Anthony Finley operated a bookshop and publishing house as early as 1809, was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the Philadelphia Common Council in 1818, a founding officer of the Philadelphia Apprentices’ Library, and a life member of both the American Sunday-School Union and the Franklin Institute.2

The earliest publications attributed to Anthony Finley in WorldCat carry a date of 1811, including Volume 1 of Eclectic repertory and analytical review, Medical and Philosophical. His early publishing years concentrated on medical and surgical texts or journals,3  although works he published spanned a variety of topics.4 Claims that Finley was a map engraver are erroneous; there is no confirmatory evidence. Such claims are based on an 1831 business directory that included Finley’s name under the very broad category of “Engravers on Copper & Wood, Copperplate Printers, Publishers of Maps, &c.”(emphasis added)5

The first two maps published by Anthony Finley were likely those in  the 1811 edition of Daniel Edward Clarke’s Travels in Various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa... published by Finley in Philadelphia. The first map, Plan of the Island and Town of Tscherchaskoy, the Capital of the Don Cossacks, has no obvious engraver imprint. The second map, Part of the Province of Rastof, in the Government of Novogorod Severski, credits the author as source but has no obvious engraver imprint.6

Finley’s first cartographic atlas was published in 1818, the Atlas classica, or, Select maps of ancient geography, both sacred and profane, for the use of colleges and schools in the United States. This atlas contained nine historical maps. A rather lazy search easily locates later editions in 1824 and 1831, the latter frequently (always?) bound with the 1831 General Atlas.

The complete title page text of Finley’s 1824 world atlas is as follows: A New General Atlas Comprising a Complete Set of Maps, representing the Grand Divisions Of The Globe, Together with the several Empires, Kingdoms, and States in the World; Compiled from the Best Authorities, and corrected by the Most Recent Discoveries. Philadelphia: Published by Anthony Finley. 1824. This proved to be a very popular atlas. The cartographer is unknown, but all of the maps were engraved by Young & Delleker. Describing the maps, Ristow wrote, “The engraving is done almost uniformly with remarkable distinctness and the face of the maps is frequently beautiful, not overloaded with a confusion of useless names”.7 Map dealer Kevin Brown describes them thusly, “[Finley’s] works are known for being attractively sparse and minimalist, focusing primarily on clarity and only the most important facts.”8 There were at least two separate issues of the atlas in 1824, and at least one each year thereafter through 1836. The 1825, 1835, and 1836 editions may be the scarcest.

Anthony Finley’s other map of North Carolina

Anthony Finley also published a larger map that included NC, SC, and Georgia. Its publication history by Finley and others dates from 1824 to at least 1845. The cartobibliography for that map may be the subject of a future blog post.


  1. Walter Ristow, in American Maps and Mapmakers: Commercial Cartography in the Nineteenth Century; 1985.
  3. 1811 Catalogue of Books in Medicine, Surgery, Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry, Mineralogy and Botany for Sale by Anthony Finley: Corner of Chesnut and Fourth Streets, Philadelphia.
  4. See WorldCat list here: 
  5. The American Advertising Directory, for Manufacturers and Dealers in American Goods. For the Year 1831. New York: Published by Jocelyn, Darling & Co. No. 36 Wall Street, p197.
  6. Finley’s 1811 edition of Clarke’s Travels…, including images of the above maps, can be seen via Access requires institutional subscription. See UNC catalog entry here; also accessible through other university libraries.
  7. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers.. p268-269

One thought on “NC cartobibliography: Anthony Finley”

What's on your mind?