Sanborn map company
logo and lettering

Wordmarks from maps issued between 1885 and 1921

Sanborn Maps logo New York Staten Island 1885

New York City, Staten Island, NY. Atlas 159, 1885

Sanborn maps logo Charleston 1888

Charleston, SC 1888

Sanborn maps lettering Watsonville 1888

Watsonville, CA 1888

Sanborn maps logo New York Brooklyn 1888

NEW YORK Brooklyn, NY 1888

Sanborn maps logo Trenton 1890

Trenton, NJ 1890

Sanborn maps logo Annapolis 1891

Annapolis, MD 1891

Sanborn maps logo Louisville 1892

Louisville, KY 1892

Sanborn maps logo Allegheny 1893

Allegheny, PA 1893

Sanborn maps logo Greenville 1893

Greenville, SC 1893

Sanborn maps logo Montpelier 1893

Montpelier, VT 1893

Sanborn maps logo Milwaukee 1894

Milwaukee, WI 1894

Sanborn maps logo Paducah 1897

Montpelier, KY 1897

Sanborn maps logo Indianapolis 1898

Indianapolis, IN 1898

Sanborn maps logo Greenville 1898

Greenville, SC 1898

Sanborn maps logo New York Richmond 1898

New York City, Richmond, NY 1898

Sanborn maps logo Greenville 1902

Greenville, SC 1902

Sanborn maps logo Washington 1903

Washington, DC 1903

Sanborn maps logo New York Manhattan 1905

New York City, Manhattan, NY 1905

Sanborn maps logo Mexico City 1905

Mexico City, Mexico 1905

Sanborn maps logo Richmond 1905

Richmond, VA 1905

Sanborn maps logo Greenville 1908

Greenville, SC 1908

Sanborn maps logo Allentown 1911

Allentown, PA 1911

Sanborn maps logo Leavenworth 1913

Leavenworth, KS 1913

Sanborn maps logo Greenville 1913

Greenville, SC 1913

Sanborn maps logo Indianapolis 1915

Indianapolis, IN 1915

Sanborn maps logo Columbia 1919

Columbia, SC 1919

Sanborn maps logo Greenville 1920

Greenville, SC 1920

Sanborn maps logo Beaver Falls 1921

Beaver Falls, PA 1921

Sanborn maps logo Alexandria 1921

Alexandria, VA 1921

This article is the second part of a series of articles about Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. You’ll find the first one here: The typography of Sanborn New York City maps.

Once I knew where to look I found a lot of Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. When I started comparing them I noticed the variety of logo/wordmark designs. Displayed above are 30 examples, but it could have been easily been 100.

Which proves designers were either crazy, passionate about design, or were paid a lot of money to come up with a different design every time.

The wordmarks aren’t as instantly recognizable as a logo is supposed to be today, but they certainly are impressive. Especially when compared to their current logo.

EDIT: I’ve started adding large images to two Gimmebar collections:
Sanborn Map Company typography and lettering + Sanborn Map Company details.

Sanborn map logo Allentown 1911 vs. Greenville 1920

Allentown 1911 vs. Greenville 1920
The “Sanborn Map Company” wordmark from the 1911 Allentown map has been recycled on the 1920 Greenville map.

The Sanborn Map Company

Sanborn Map Company began creating fire insurance maps in 1867. They were created to assist insurance agencies in assessing the fire risk of properties. Detailed maps, showing building use, sidewalk and street widths, layout and names, property boundaries, distance between buildings, house and block numbers, location of water mains, hydrants, piping, wells, cisterns, and fuel storage tanks. Maps were often updated by pasting new drawings directly over the original ones.

Other sources: high quality maps

I’ll update this list as soon as I find more websites with high quality scans. Most websites are from libraries and universities.

  1. Daniel says:

    These are killer! Golden Black has a great vector set inspired by these Sanborn Map designs!

  2. Karl Sakas says:

    I knew about Sanborn maps but didn’t realize the company’s logo changed so frequently! Thanks for sharing.

    To find Sanborn maps of what a particular area looked like in the past, call the reference section of the largest library in your area. At least in the U.S., libraries often subscribe to PDF version of the maps for the surrounding city or county.