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CAMDEN, William

Britannia: or, a Chorographical Description of the Flourishing Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the Islands Adjacent; from the Earliest Antiquity. By William Camden. Translated from the Edition Published by the Author in MDCVII [1607]. Enlarged by the Latest Discoveries, By Richard Gough, F. A. & R. SS.

J. Nichols, for T. Payne & Son, G.G.J. & J. Robinson, London, 1789
Folio, three volumes (435 x 265 mm. each), full contemporary tree calf, ornate gilt panelled boards, spine with raised bands, extremely ornate gilt decorated compartments, ornate gilt calf title and volume labels to each, marbled endpapers, light wear. With frontispiece engraved portrait of William Camden in the first volume, typographic title pages to each volume, pp. viii, [2], xxii, [4], viii, cxlix [with cx*-cxv* inserted in sequence], [1, blank], 351, [1, blank], [36]; [6], 598 [with 161*-166* inserted in sequence], [42]; [6], 760, [54], with 154 engraved plates and maps, of these 97 are engraved plates of which 8 are double page and 57 are engraved maps, of which 52 are double page, all in early outline colour, further additional engraved illustrations within the text, includes a folding letterpress on the genealogy of Oliver Cromwell in volume 2, some foxing and offsetting as is often found in this work, extensive to Wiltshire, otherwise in good condition.
The first edition of Richard Gough’s translation of William Camden’s original classic work. Gough (1735-1809) was a noted antiquarian and collector and Director of the Society of Antiquaries from 1771-97. His collection survives today at the Bodleian Library in Oxford and it is considered one of the premier sources of British cartographic material. The ‘Gough’ map is its most noted possession. In 1768 he published ‘Anecdotes of British Topography’, followed by the considerably expanded ‘British Topography’ in 1780, both highly important compendiums of British maps and topographical material known at the time. Sir John Cullum of Hardwick House wrote to Gough in 1782 stating that ‘next to the Bible’ his text was the work he most consulted. ‘Map collectors at least should recognize ‘British Topography’ as the first comprehensive inventory of British maps and associated topographical literature. There has not been a work of comparable scope in the 200 years since it was written and although it may be dated it has not been replaced’ (Walters).

Robert Morden’s publication of William Camden’s ‘Britannia’ first issued in 1695 had last been issued in 1772 and a fresh translation from the original Latin text was deemed essential by Gough. The undertaking began in 1773 and it took him seven years to translate and assimilate his own research. ‘As well as visiting every county himself, he called upon a network of antiquarian friends and correspondents to seek out information, check proofs, and offer suggestions’ (ODNB).

For a set of maps to illustrate the work he turned to the John Cary (1755-1835) who was having success with the ‘New and Correct English Atlas’ of 1787. Cary did not rely on any one source and appears to have utilised many of the prior large-scale county maps which had been published. A proof copy is found in the Gough Collection at the Bodleian Library, the maps are marked with annotations in Gough’s own hand. Chubb (1927) 271; Fordham (1925) p. 30; ODNB; Shirley (2004) T.Camd 7a; Walters (1978) ‘Richard Gough’s Map Collecting for the ‘British Topography”, in The Map Collector no. 2 pp. 26-8; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).
Stock number: 10207

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