Quarto (225 x 280 mm.), full cloth binding, gilt ‘Atlas’ on upper board, with 49 (of 50) maps, one folding, all in early outline colour, printed back to back, omitting the general map of the roads which appears not to have been bound in. In good condition.
Joseph Ellis (fl.1758-d.1802) was an engraver whose most important cartographic production was the atlas named after him of the English Counties. It was first published in 1765 as the ‘New English Atlas’ of which only one incomplete example survives. It was issued jointly by Carington Bowles and Robert Sayer and re-named ‘Ellis’s English Atlas’ in 1766. The 1768 edition comes in two versions, with fifty-four maps or fifty maps as described on their titles. This is an example of the latter. As shown on the contents leaf two maps are omitted, these are the general map of the Rivers, that of London’s environs and the two of the Channel Islands. The imprint of the title bears two errors in the spelling of ‘Robrt Sayer’ and ‘Thomas Jeffery’s’. Indeed, Hodson suggests that the grammar appears to call out for the insertion of ‘sold at’ or ‘sold by’. He extrapolates from this that Sayer was the sole proprietor of the atlas and that Jefferys and Dury were merely agents for sales. Jefferys had in fact been declared bankrupt in 1766 and was acting merely with the support of his friends one of which we know to have been Sayer. There is in fact an un-named seller on the title identified by ‘the Map and Print Shop No. 92, under the Royal-Exchange, Cornhill’. This has been identified as John Hemsted who was known to have worked in partnership with Sayer and Jefferys.
This is most likely the example cited by Hodson and Burden as being the only example known to have the maps printed back to back. It is also curious in that the large folding general map of ‘South Britain’ bears the imprint of Robert Sayer and John Bennett and is dated 1777. It does not appear to be a later insertion. It would seem more likely that an old title page was used at a later date. John Bennett joined Sayer in partnership in 1774. Several copies of the atlas have been noted in which various general maps have been bound into the work. Provenance: private English collection. Chubb (1927) 228; ESTC T217872; Hodson (1984-97) 245; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).