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CAMDEN, William

Britannia: Or A Chorographical Description Of Great Britain And Ireland, Together with the Adjacent Islands. Written in Latin By William Camden, Clarenceux, King at Arms: And Translated into English, with Additions

Awnsham Churchill, London, 1722
Folio (410 x 260 mm.), two volumes, full contemporary calf, blind panelled boards with ornate corners and central panel, recornered, with rebacked ribbed spine, blind ruled compartments with ornate central blind floral design, green calf gilt title labels. Volume 1 with engraved portrait of Camden by R. White, typographic title printed in red and black within double ruled border to both volumes and 51 engraved maps including 3 engraved general maps, 42 double-page county maps and general maps of North and South Wales, North and South Scotland, Ireland and the Smaller Islands by Robert Morden, 9 engraved plates of coins, 4 engraved illustrations in the text, one full-page, pp. (66), cclxviii (double column numeration), (2), 696 (double column numeration); (2), 697-1526 (double column numeration), (175).
Robert Morden is arguably best known for the series of maps he produced for the first edition of Dr. Edmund Gibson’s translation of William Camden’s ‘Britannia’. Gibson (1669-1748) had first projected the work in 1692 when a Fellow of Queen’s College, Oxford. He turned to Morden (d.1703) to provide the maps. His sources are varied and are analysed by Skelton. This second edition of Edmund Gibson’s version of William Camden’s ‘Britannia’ was some years in the making as evidenced by the Preface where he states that ‘about twelve Years since, I turn’d my Thoughts in earnest, towards the farther Improvement and Perfecting of this Work’. This included new information received from a variety of correspondents he goes on to name. It appears the delays were largely due to the pressure of his diocesan career. He became Bishop of Lincoln (1716-20) and of London (1720-48).

The Churchill brothers Awnsham and John had become in the interim one of the most successful booksellers in London. Indeed, Awnsham having made his fortune bought an estate in Dorset and became M.P. for Dorchester 1705-10. John Churchill died in 1716 as indeed had Robert Morden in 1703. The third partner Abel Swale was out of business having fallen on desperate times. Despite closing his shop in 1719 and selling most of his stock to William Taylor it appears Churchill had retained the rights to the ‘Britannia’. For this edition, he arranged for Taylor to be the distributor.

In answer to some of the original criticism about the accuracy of the maps Churchill had all but eleven of the plates amended. Hodson in his remarkable bibliography details some of the alterations to each plate. On the county map this was possibly due to there being no suitable correspondent to supply the necessary information. That of the smaller Islands was altered during the issue of this edition and provides a later variant. In this example, the map is in the earlier state. Of the original fifty plates two were replaced, that of North Wales is one. That of Scotland is replaced by two separate maps of North and South Scotland derived from that by John Senex published in the New General Atlas, 1721. The text underwent a large printing, enough to supply the following edition c.1730. Provenance: private English collection. Carroll (1996) no. 19; Chubb (1927) 115; ESTC T144701; Hodson (1984-97) 169; Shirley ‘Atlases in the British Library’ T.Camb 5c.
Stock number: 9155

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