A PREVIOUSLY UNRECORDED EARLIER STATE of the Richard Phillips series of maps. They were first published by Richard Phillips (1767-1840) in in two different works in 1808. ‘A Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom’ by Benjamin Pitts Capper (1772-1844) and the very rare ‘An Atlas of the British Islands’ by Phillips.
Phillips was born in London to a Leicestershire family. He founded the ‘Leicester Herald’ in 1792. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail for selling Thomas Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’ the following year. In 1795 his premises burnt to the ground and with the insurance money he returned to London where he founded ‘The Antiquarians Magazine and Monthly Magazine’. To accompany the works, Phillips employed Henry Cooper (fl.1804-19) to engrave a series of plates. They are loosely drawn on those of Cary. The seas are represented by dark engraving.
Capper produced just this one work but it proved to be a successful one. He worked in the Secretary of State’s office. The Introduction states that the ‘compiler having assisted in preparing the abstracts of the answer and returns made to the Population Act, as well as in arranging the returns of the Cultivation of the Kingdom, which were laid before Parliament, in 1802, he has been enabled to correct in this Work every error which appeared in the account printed for the Parliament’.
All the maps in this volume are dated 1 August 1807, five months earlier than those in the published works which are 1 January 1808. We might conjecture that the reason for the apparent delay in publication is twofold. Kingsley stated that he quarrelled with the editor of the Capper, Dr. John Aikin (1747-1822), purported author of the county atlas entitled England Delineated first published in 1788. Another might be the fact that at Midsummer in 1807 he was elected Sheriff of London and Middlesex. Despite continuing work on the plates which here bear a date of 1 August 1807, clearly, he could not complete either work. He received a knighthood on 31 March 1808. Interestingly he was a lifelong vegetarian and in 1802 he published Joseph Ritson’s ‘Essay on Abstinence from Animal Food, as a Moral Duty’.
The maps are all printed on much thicker paper and are very sharp impressions. They are printed on J. Whatman paper watermarked 1805 on that of Staffordshire. The previous owner noted that 20 of the maps bore further alterations beyond the imprint date. A quick check only identified that on the Surrey, the text below the title is removed and plate XXXIII altered to XXXIV for the 1808 issue. Provenance: private English collection. Refer Beresiner (1983) p. 80; Carroll (1996) no. 64; refer Chubb (1927) 327; Kingsley (1982) 67; ODNB; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).