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The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
P.O. Box 863,
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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 Gough gen.top.220; National Library of Scotland EME.b.19 and this example. Since then two further examples have been discovered; the Wardington Collection copy which we acquired and now resides in a private English collection and another in 2008 in the hands of Brian Kentish, present whereabouts unknown. Provenance: 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, With the Adjacent Islands. Wherein are contained, Diverse useful Observations and Discoveries … By Herman Moll, Geographer

H. Moll, T. Bowles, C. Rivington & J. Bowles, London, 1724
Folio (335 x 210 mm.), full contemporary calf, with repairs, rebacked with ribbed spine and blind ruled compartments, with green morocco gilt title label. Typographic title printed in red and black, with 50 engraved maps in their first state, several folding, a few engraved illustrations, pp. (2), xi, (1), 344, x. Original front free endpaper with manuscript index is worn, title with frayed edge, loss of lower corner border, England and Wales loose, apparently never bound in, those county maps which are portrayed horizontally are bound folding in, those which are vertical are bound as such with no folds, some of the latter are therefore trimmed a little close in binding, that of Leicestershire bears a few lines of manuscript on the verso discussing building materials found in the county.
Stock number: 9163


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