Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

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One of the earliest plates found in the book being first separately issued in 1728. The second state as usual with the plate number 20 engraved top right. Samuel and Nathaniel Buck’s ‘A Prospect of Britain’ printed in London in 1774, is generally accepted as the finest collection of British city panoramas to be published in the eighteenth century. The work contained a series of 81 panoramas and was published by Robert Sayer. The brothers Samuel and Nathaniel Buck were born in Richmond, North Yorkshire and became interested in sketching town prospects because of Ralph Thoresby, a local antiquary. From 1719 they produced and published a series of views of towns in the north of England. Each was available to subscribers for between 2 and 5 shillings each. They soon outgrew the north and moved south to London. Their tours to sketch were prepared well in advance, potential subscribers being contacted before-hand usually through local press. The following summer season would be when the view was prepared. At the end of the season they would return to London and began the process of engraving. On occasions other artists were employed to enhance the foreground image and bring it to life, many including labourers, fishermen, sportsmen and peddlers. The work was finally completed in 1753. It has been suggested by Ralph Hyde that the engraver Jean-Baptiste Chatelain (1710-1771) may have been employed to produce many of the later plates.

The commercial success of the enterprise initially made the brothers wealthy. However they both appear to have developed financial problems later in life. Nathaniel Buck died in 1756 and in 1774 Robert Sayer acquired the copper plates from Samuel and published them in ‘Buck’s Antiquities’, a magnificent three volume work priced at 20 guineas. In 1779 Samuel Buck died. Much of the topography documented in the views has subsequently been lost and they are a very valuable record of a pre-industrial Britain. These perspective panoramic views have never been surpassed; no other series of views ever published was as extensive or detailed. They provided the model for numerous derivatives including the inset views to Emanuel Bowen and Thomas Kitchin’s ‘Large English Atlas’ c.1755, Robert and James Dodsley’s ‘England Illustrated’ 1764, Nathaniel Spencer’s ‘Complete English Traveller’ 1773, George Walpoole’s ‘New & Complete English Traveller’ 1784 and the European, London and Universal Magazines from the 1750s. Hyde (1985); Hyde (1994); Upcott I, page xxxiii.

BUCK, Samuel & Nathaniel

The East Prospect of Derby

Robert Sayer, London, 1728-[74]
250 x 700 mm., in fine recent wash colour, with a light paper crease on the right side, otherwise a good example.
Stock number: 5987

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