In 1865, cartographer and atlas compiler, Major L. H. Everts of Geneva, Illinois partnered with his Civil War comrade, Captain T. H. Thompson to create a series of historical atlases for various communities. In 1875, the two created the now famous 1875 Historical Atlas of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Major Everts was reportedly remarkably suited for this work, impaired only by his poor health. A guide to atlas and map publishing describes him as “smart, active, genial, penetrating in his observation, sanguine of success, enthusiastic and an unusual judge of human nature. He knew at a glance how to approach a man and discovered the soft spot in his head in an instant. He always left his ‘victim’ feeling in excellent humor with himself and satisfied that no one had ever before fully realized what a capital fellow he was. But Everts almost always carried away in his pocket the gentleman’s signature for a map.”
Everts studied salesmanship to the most minute detail and thus learned how to generate publicity for his ventures, sell views, patrons, and books in large numbers for profit. The sketches in these books were done on a commission basis, and reportedly the men who sketched the views received $3.50 per sketch.
The subjects paid the atlas makers about $76 for a half-page view, $145 for a full-page, and $28 to $36 for smaller views. Portraits sold for $100 to $250 each. Biographies cost about 21/2 cents a word. Township maps cost the publishers about $32.59 for surveying and copying from records, and the engravings cost $20 each. The books themselves sold for about $9.
The above costs, however, were for an atlas of another county published in 1878.
Everts bought out Thompson’s interest and then joined with two successful entrepreneurs, 0. J. Baskin and D. J. Stewart. By the mid-1870s, Everts dissolved all partnerships and launched his own atlas publishing business that employed a large sales and artistic staff.