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The Mapping of North America

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SYMONSON, Philip – STENT, Peter

A New Description of Kent divided into the fyve lathes thereof ... 1596

Peter Stent at ye White Horse in Giltspur Street, London, 1596-[1659]
530 x 790 mm., trimmed close to the neatline at the upper margin with no loss to engraved surface, margin extended professionally, with some light repair to double folds as might be expected and some loss to the centrefold, otherwise a good example.
An UNRECORDED STATE of Philip Symonson’s great map of Kent which is not even listed in Burgess’ current online study. Symonson’s map of Kent first published in 1596 is generally considered to be the FIRST PRINTED LARGE SCALE MAP OF AN ENGLISH COUNTY. Barber describes it as ‘one of the most sophisticated maps to be produced in England under Elizabeth.’ Symonson (d.1598) it appears published this half inch to the mile map to coincide with the second edition of William Lambarde’s ‘Perambulation of Kent’. Indeed Lambarde refers to the map in the book, pp. 220-1, recommending it to his readers. They presumably became acquainted by both being involved on the Rochester Bridge. Lambarde had been a member of the governing body since 1585 and Symonson was appointed its paymaster in 1593 and would become mayor of Rochester 1597-98. He was the first English mapmaker to include indications of longitude and latitude and like John Norden before him he added the roads to. Worms described it as ‘technically the most accomplished county map printed in England before the eighteenth century.’

The two sheet map was engraved by Charles Whitwell (fl.1593-1611) a maker of mathematical instruments who was apprenticed to Augustine Ryther in 1582. In 1590 he became a freeman of the Grocer’s Company. His engraved works include 6 maps, 3 of which are dated from 1594-6 and include Norden’s map of Surrey 1594 (1 copy) and Symonson’s map of Kent. He was also the engraver of a recently discovered small silver globe, the earliest surviving made in England. When Robert Dudley fled to Italy in 1606 it is known that he took ten of his instruments.

Only two complete examples of the first state are known; in the British Library and the British Museum. As did so much material of the day the copper plates ended up in the hands of Peter Stent sometime around 1645 when he at first added his imprint. Of this only three examples are recorded. A third state was prepared in 1659 for inclusion in Thomas Philipot’s ‘Villare Cantianum, or Kent Surveyed’. For this he employed the services of the great Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77). Pennington describes the engraver in glowing terms: ‘Of all etchers, Hollar is certainly the most varied in subject, one of the most accomplished in technique, and with a style that is full of a charm, a humour, and a good nature that are evidently the character of the man himself’. He was born in Prague and made his way to England in the party of Lord Arundel arriving in London in late December 1636. For the upper right of the map Hollar etched a panorama of Dover Castle and upper left one of Rye. The latter is after a painting by the great seventeenth century court painter Sir Anthony van Dyck (22 March 1599 – 9 December 1641). Pennington states that the original van Dyck painting was in the possession of Sir Bruce Ingram (1877-1963) editor of the ‘Illustrated London News’. It is now in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York.

The fourth state of eight cited by Burgess has the old date erased and replaced with Stent’s address and the date 1659. In this example Stent’s imprint is added and the date 1596 erased but no address or date is yet given for Stent. This therefore is the ONLY KNOWN EXAMPLE of the first known state with Stent’s imprint. Barber, Peter, ‘Mapmaking in England, ca. 1470-1650’ in ‘History or Cartography’ vol. 3 pt. 2 p. 1631 & Worms, Laurence p. 1713; Burgess (2009) 4.vi; Globe (1985) no. 343a; Hind (1952-55) I. pp. 223-4; Pennington (1982) no. 665; Rodger (1972) no. 213; STC 23594.5; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011) p. 719.
Stock number: 8239

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