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

The Mapping of North America

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Joseph Ellis (fl.1758-d.1802) was an engraver whose most important cartographic production was the atlas named after him of the English counties. The maps were engraved in the style of Thomas Kitchin, as seen in his ‘England Illustrated’ of 1764. Five of the maps are engraved by William Palmer, Cornwall by Louis Stanislas D’Arcy De la Rochette, Worcester by William Fowler and fourteen are unidentified. It was first published in 1765 as the ‘New English Atlas’ of which only one incomplete example survives in the British Library. The atlas was published by Carington Bowles (1724-93) and Robert Sayer (1725?-94), two of the most established mapsellers at the time. It was re-named ‘Ellis’s English Atlas’ in 1766. There were no less than five versions in that year, three significantly different. A 50-map and 54-map issue, both with variant title pages and a French edition with 54 maps. The larger content issues are particularly rare. They include folding maps of the rivers of England and Wales, twenty-five miles round London, Jersey and Guernsey. This is the variant issue with Robert Sayer named first in the imprint. The work was also issued with each map on a single leaf or back-to-back reducing its bulk for travelling purposes. Indeed, the title states ‘Price 10s. 6d. in Red Leather for the Pocket’. The latter tends to be rarer.

This example is from the famous library of Matthew Boulton (1728-1809), the industrialist and partner to James Watt (1736-1819). They were manufacturers of steam engines and were one of the main drivers of the entire Industrial Revolution. Boulton was a prominent member of the Lunar Society which met every month when there was a full moon. Soho House, now a museum, was his home and frequently a venue for their meetings. Other members were Erasmus Darwin (father of Charles), Joseph Priestley, Josiah Wedgwood, William Withering and of course James Watt. Boulton’s renowned library was a loan library. Indeed, the Soho House Library Loan Book was purchased by the Archives and Collections, Library of Birmingham, in 2009 [MS 3782/21/27]. The volume is a list of books borrowed from the library at Soho by family and friends of the Boulton’s from 1814 to 1845. It has columns headed ‘Books, To Whom, When Lent, When Returned.’

Following Matthew Boulton’s death the house was occupied by his son Matthew Robinson Boulton (1770-1842), until 1815-1816, when he bought an estate at Great Tew in Oxfordshire. His son Matthew Piers Watt Boulton (1820-1894). It then became the home of Matthew Robinson Boulton and that of his son Matthew Ernest Boulton. Improvements to the farmland were also made and in 1877 Great Tew was described as “one of the best farmed parishes in the Midland Counties”. Following the death of Matthew Ernest Boulton in 1914, Great Tew was held in public trusteeship for nearly fifty years, during which time very little was done to maintain the Estate or its buildings. In 1962 Major Eustace Robb inherited the estate and immediately set about a gradual programme of improvements. This process took time and money but by Major Robb’s death in 1985 significant progress had been made. It was at this point that the Soho Library was auctioned through Christie’s, London.

Provenance: with bookplate of ‘M. Boulton’s Library, Soho. Sold at Christie’s December 1986’, Matthew Boulton (1728-1809); Matthew Robinson Boulton (1770-1842); Matthew Piers Watt Boulton (1820-94); Christie’s 12 December 1986 lot 72 £935 to Burgess-Browning; private collection. Chubb (1927) 228; ESTC T153942; Hodson (1984-97) 242; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).

ELLIS, Joseph

Ellis's English Atlas: Or, a Compleat Chorography of England and Wales: in Fifty-Four Maps. Containing more Particulars than any other Collection of the Same Kind. The Whole Calculated for the Use of Travellers, Academies, and of all those who desire to Improve in the Knowledge of their Country ...

Robert Sayer, at the Golden Buck, near Serjeants Inn, in Fleet-Street; and Carington Bowles, next the Chapter-House, in St. Paul's Church-Yard, London, 1766
MATTHEW BOULTON’S COPY. Quarto (225 x 150 mm.), full contemporary calf, rebacked spine with gilt ruled raised bands, red calf gilt title label, some brown offsetting from binder’s glue on first and last few leaves as often, worn. With typographic title page, contents on verso, with 54 engraved maps, including six folding, all in early outline colour, otherwise in good condition.
Stock number: 10735


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