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

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
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The FIRST EDITION FIRST ISSUE of Herman Moll’s first English county atlas is of some considerably rarity. The first announcement of the publication occurred in the ‘Daily Journal’ 31 July 1724. Moll is believed to have been born in Bremen, Germany, around 1654 and arrived in England from Holland by 1678. He rose to become one of the most successful cartographers of his era. His engraving style is unique and attractive. By 1724 Moll had already published several successful works. The ‘New Description of England and Wales …’, including text by an unknown hand, was his first English county atlas.

Encouragement for the work came from William Stukeley, who in the preface is recalled as having presented the first map in the book ‘to encourage this Design’. Moll had three partners in the project identified in the imprint of the title. These were Charles Rivington and the successful publishing brothers of Thomas and John Bowles. Thomas Bowles and Moll had already worked tentatively together on an unsuccessful book of road strips in 1718. The text is derived from Camden and arranged in a similar order although the preface states that ‘we have been able to rectify many Errors … overlooked by those … who have gone before us’. He goes on to espouse the efforts he put in to adjusting the outlines of the county borders so that they more accurately agree with each other. Further additions include references to the mining of coal, tin, copper and others. The maps themselves are largely derived from those of Robert Morden’s ‘Britannia’ of 1695. The mileage figures displayed on the roads derive from those of John Ogilby’s ‘Britannia’, 1675. Each county map bears engraved down both sides of the map a series of antiquities, ancient coins, natural features and other curiosities.

Only two further adverts are known for the work; the ‘Evening Post’ 1-4 August 1724 and the ‘Weekly Journal or Saturday’s-Post’ 15 August 1724. The next incarnation of the series of maps was as an atlas without text entitled ‘A Set of Fifty New and Correct Maps of England and Wales’ dated the same year 1724. Judging by the number of surviving examples this second work appears to have been much more successful. For its issue plate numbers were added to the maps to facilitate the order of binding. Therefore early examples of the ‘New Description …’ bear maps without plate numbers and are very rare. Hodson cited only four complete examples of the early issue: British Library (G1290), Bodleian Library (Gough; National Library of Scotland (EME.b.19) and the Burden Collection. Since then three further examples have been discovered; the Wardington Library copy which we acquired and now resides in a private English collection, another we handled which is now in the Cambridge University Library, and Brian Kentish in 2008, present whereabouts unknown. A few examples like this one are identified lacking one or two maps indicating possibly a lax binding procedure. Provenance: ownership inscription on the title page of ‘Ch. Jerningham’ (1688-1760) MD and member of the Royal College of Physicians; Tooley Adams: private English collection; Clive A. Burden Ltd. Catalogue IX (2012) item 66; private English collection. Chubb (1927) 160; ESTC T145692; Hodson (1984-97) 173; Shirley (2004) T.Moll 6a; Tyacke (1978); Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).

MOLL, Herman

A New Description of England and Wales

London, 1724
Folio (355 x 240 mm.), full contemporary blind ornate panelled calf, rebacked ribbed spine with red morocco gilt label. Typographic title printed in red and black, with 49 (of 50) engraved maps in their first state (4 folded), a few engraved illustrations, pp. (2), xii, 344, x, small tear to Devonshire in the margin, Sussex lacking, otherwise a good example of the first issue.
Stock number: 10961
£ 3,250
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