Joseph Hutchins Colton, known professionally as J.H. Colton, founded an American mapmaking company which was an international leader in the map publishing industry between 1831 and 1890.
Colton was born in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and moved to New York in 1831 to establish his firm. For the first ten years, Colton licensed the use of maps from established cartographers such as David H. Burr. Colton also employed some of the preeminent engravers of the time, including Burr, Samuel Stiles, John Disturnell and D. Griffing Johnson. Colton went on to create railroad maps, immigrant guides, folding pocket maps, large wall maps, and elaborate atlases.
J.H. Colton Company maps were printed using engraved steel plates, which produced higher quality prints than maps made with less costly wax engravings. They were often individually hand watercolored
and were recognized for their decorative borders.
In the early 1850s Colton brought his two sons into the business, George Woolworth Colton and Charles B. Colton.
In 1857, Colton was awarded a $25,000 commission by the Government of Bolivia to produce 2500 large maps of the country.