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WHITWELL, Charles – STENT, Peter

A Geographical Description of France. Newly Amended ... By the Author Peter Plantius ... C. W.

P. Stent at the White Horse without Newgate, London, c.1650
380 x 460 mm., in early outline colour, with one small wormhole, otherwise in very good condition.
Charles Whitwell (fl.1593-1611) was a maker of mathematical instruments and was apprenticed to Augustine Ryther in 1582. In 1590 he became a freeman of the Grocer’s Company. His engraved works includes 6 maps, 3 of which are dated from 1594-6 and include Norden’s map of Surrey 1594 (1 copy) and Symonson’s 2 sheet map of Kent 1596. He was also the engraver of a recently discovered small silver globe (‘History of Cartography’ 3.2 p. 1712). The last is the earliest surviving globe made in England. When Robert Dudley fled to Italy in 1606 it is known that he took ten of his instruments. This map of France is dated to c.1600 by Hind and other authorities and no example survives in the first state. There are presumed to be three states of this map.

In 1592 Cornelis Claesz published a map of France by Petrus Plancius and engraved by Baptista van Doetecum. It can be distinguished from most French maps in that it is extended northwards to take in the Low Countries. This map survives in just three known examples. Interestingly two of these are found bound into John Eliot’s ‘The Survay or Topographical Description of France’ published in London, 1592, by John Wolfe (Luborsky & Ingram 7575), these being at Cambridge University Library and the Huntington Library. The third loose example is in the Bodleian Library. John Wolfe was the printer for Ryther’s Armada plates to whom Charles Whitwell had been apprenticed. Wolfe’s extensive contacts on the continent could explain how Plancius’ original map was included in copies of the book. It could be that Charles Whitwell’s map was engraved for it, but lacking from the examples surviving, it was found to be easier to replace it with the Dutch example. An examination of the extant copies to see if it was bound in by the publisher might prove fruitful. The reasoning behind this thought is that despite his continental connections he was not known for using their engravers but rather favoured English ones. Evidence for this is particularly found in the English edition of Linschoten issued in 1598. Another more likely scenario is that on the back of the publication of this book Charles Whitwell engraved his own map for an unknown party. It might be suggested on the back of this evidence, that a date closer to 1592 would seem more appropriate.

Peter Stent’s shop was just outside London at Newgate from about 1642, until his death from the plague on 29 September 1665. He was England’s first printseller with a large and diverse stock of material. He acquired many old plates produced in an earlier era, amongst them is this plate engraved by Whitwell. Skelton believed that many of them came to him through the hands of George and William Humble (Skelton pp. 135 & 234). The map is listed in Stent’s surviving catalogues of 1653, 1658, 1662 & 1663. In 1665 on his death John Overton acquired Peter Stent’s stock of map plates and fortunately for us managed to save them from the Great Fire of London. The shop was undoubtedly destroyed in the Fire as Giltspur Street ran from Pudding Lane to Pie Corner. The third state of Whitwell’s map of France is cited in the Catalogues of Overton from 1667 and 1673.

State 1. c.1600. Issued at the time of engraving by Whitwell, he died 1611? None survive.
State 2. c.1650. With the imprint of Stent in two places (this example; BL Maps 14295.(119))
State 3. c.1667. With Stent imprint lower left altered to ‘Io. Overton at the White Horse at little Old Baly corner nere Newgate’ (BL Maps 14295.(121)

Provenance: Ashley Baynton-Williams 2009; private English collection. Dekker ‘Globes at Greenwich’ pp. 101-3, 203-4; Globe no. 368; Hind I pp. 223-7; Luborsky & Ingram ‘A guide to English illustrated books, 1536-1603’; Schilder MCN VII pp. 379-87.
Stock number: 9614

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