An EXTREMELY RARE AND DESIRABLE atlas begun by Thomas Dix (1770-1813) which was completed with the help of William Darton. Dix was a junior master at Oundle School an became Master of North Walsham Classical, Commercial and Naval Academy. Dix first published in the subject of land surveying in 1799 and would produce a ‘Juvenile Atlas’ in 1811 published by William Darton. There is a reference in the ‘Norfolk Chronicle’ for 11 January 1806 to the Academy referring to Dix’s published ‘Treatise on the Construction and Copying of Geographical Maps’. Dix died in 1813 having lost all five of his children before the age of two. Before his death he had clearly been working on a folio atlas.
William Darton was a publisher who after the death of Dix in 1813, along with his son, saw the atlas through to completion. The title page states, ‘commenced by the late Thomas Dix, of North Walsham; carried on and completed by William Darton’. The maps are generally thought to have been drawn from those of Robert Rowe whose own folio atlas began in 1810 but was finally published in 1816. Both had also worked on material for the juvenile market. The biggest difference is the addition of beautifully engraved vignette views to these maps.
The great publishing house of William Darton [1755-1819], was by 1822 in the hands of his son, also William [1781-1854]. William Darton, the founder, was a Quaker and engraver who established a bookshop in the City of London in 1787. As a publisher of prints and books, his work was intended for a youthful audience. His son, also William, was apprenticed to his father and made free in 1802. He formed his own business in 1804 in partnership with his brother Thomas Darton (1783-1855) which lasted until 1810.
The earliest maps are those of Cumberland and Essex, both dated 6 July 1816. During production, the maps were issued separately, dissected, and backed on linen, or as loose sheets. The latest dated map is of Rutland, 21 May 1821. Nineteen of the maps bear the imprint of ‘William Darton’, and 23 that of ‘W. Darton, junr.’, both at 58, Holborn Hill. The complete work was published in 1822 under the title of ‘A Complete Atlas of the English Counties’. A dedication to the recently crowned George IV is dated 30 March 1822. The atlas is of great rarity, only three examples have appeared on the market in 20 years. Provenance: Sotheby’s 13 November 2003 lot 335 £5040; private English collection. Beresiner (1983) p. 96-7; Carroll (1996) no. 75; Chubb (1927) no. 387; Eden (1975) D203; Kingsley (1982) no. 75; Quixley (2018) 73; Smith (1982) pp. 130-2; Tooley’s Dictionary (1999-2004); Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).