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“We will send any maps that may come for you—we have just received a map of Panama without a mark (a new map) that is yours.” Thus wrote the proprietor of Joseph Sabin and Sons bookstore from New York on September 1, 1874, to Mr. Darlington. The letter provides insight to the breadth of Mr. Darlington’s collecting interests while at the same time explaining, at least in part, how Mr. Darlington assembled a collection of nearly six hundred items.
For someone very interested in history, travel, and exploration, as Mr. Darlington certainly was, acquiring maps to complement his extensive collection of books and manuscripts seems only natural. There is clear evidence that some of his maps came from books or atlases, although it is impossible to determine if such items were loose when he purchased them or if they were removed subsequent to his acquisition. Regardless, together they form a valuable collection.
Maps of states, colonies, and larger regions of the United States comprise a significant number. The vast majority of them are printed, many enhanced by watercolors done by hand. When Mr. Darlington could not acquire a map from one of his usual sources, such as dealers, he resorted to another approach. He would secure the services of someone to examine maps, especially manuscript maps, and provide him with hand drawn copies that closely resembled the originals! Mr. James A. Burt acted in that capacity, meticulously copying manuscript maps located at the Public Record Office in London and then sending them on to Mr. Darlington, adding a special dimension to the collection.