Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden‚Äč
P.O. Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 76 33 13

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This extremely rare atlas was first published as a series of playing cards by Robert Morden (fl. 1669-1703) in 1676. The idea of geographical playing cards first appeared in England with those of William Bowes in 1590. It was only a question of time before someone published one as there were 40 English and 12 Welsh counties in total, making up the neat total of 52 in all. Following the Restoration of King Charles II there was much renewed interest in the pleasures of life in England. Amongst these was a keen desire for gaming, including the use of packs of cards. Geographical cards had been issued before this date, but they usually constituted descriptive text with or without a small illustration of some kind; for example, those of Henry Winstanley in 1665. This pack was first announced in the Easter Term Catalogues 5 May 1676 and were otherwise undated.

For each county Morden displays below the map its Length, Breadth and Circumference in Old English miles. Below that he gives the chief city or town and its distance from London first in reputed and then measured miles according to John Ogilby. Lastly, he states their latitude. Each map bears the roads featured by Ogilby in his ‘Britannia’ of 1675 ‘with his leave’, the main ones double lined and minor ones identified by one. In most cases, they are the first printed maps of the county to include roads, included within only six months of Ogilby’s publication. In each suit the King is represented by Charles II, the Queen by his consort Catherine of Braganza. The Jack or knave is illustrated by unidentified and different male heads.

The whereabouts of the cards since the death of Robert Morden in 1703 is unknown. They are next heard of in the possession of Homan Turpin, a bookseller in London from 1750 to 1790. The wording at the end of the title page to this work refers to him selling all sorts of items to schools and it would appear that this was a likely market for this atlas. Six of Turpin’s catalogues are known and this work is not listed in any of them. Therefore it is concluded that the work was issued after the last of these in 1783, hence a circa date of 1785 is given by Hodson. Turpin died in 1791, his will is dated 26 March 1791. The counties of England are bound in alphabetical order with those of Wales following. As might be expected there are no suit marks present although the numeration in Roman and Arabic may still be found as this was part of the engraved plate. In the case of the higher cards the Roman numerals are replaced with figure heads. There are just five known institutional examples. Provenance: Alex Jackson collection; Clive A. Burden Ltd. January 1997. References: Chubb (1927) 109; ESTC T204060; Hodson (1997) III no. 273; Mann and Kingsley (1972) pp. 3-4, 16-18, App. I no. 4, App. II no. 3, App. III no. 2, pl. XI; Shirley (2004) T.Mord 1c.

MORDEN, Robert – TURPIN, Homan

A Brief Description of England and Wales

Printed for H. Turpin, No. 104 St. John's Street, West Smithfield, London, c.1785
Duodecimo (115 x 80 mm.) full contemporary calf, blind panelled boards with ornate blind side panel, rebacked spine with gilt ruled compartments, with contemporary endpapers. With typographic title page set within ornate engraved border, Introduction, pp. viii, 9-126, with 52 engraved maps laid down onto blank leaves as published, interspersed within the descriptive text but not allowed for in the pagination, in good condition.
Stock number: 10740


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