Octavo (190 x 120 mm.), full contemporary marbled calf, rebacked preserving the original spine, ornate gilt ruled compartments, gilt calf title. With typographic title page and 43 copper plate maps consisting of England (folding), North Wales, South Wales and 40 county maps, pp. 396 numbered to ‘x’ in roman, (4), a good example.
The undertaker of the work is Joseph Johnson (1738-1809). Originally from Liverpool, he was a bookseller and publisher who specialised in medical works and was Joseph Priestley’s first publisher. It was first published in 1788 and only one example at Cambridge University Library is known to bear a series of maps. They are accepted to have been first published for the second edition of 1790 offered here. They are indeed not ‘called for’ until the third edition of 1795, when mentioned on the title page as here. Editions with maps continued until 1809. This is the fifth edition and the fourth to include maps. Carroll states that Johnson was the engraver of the maps but does not identify the evidence for this. The maps are simple with no scale or compass and are shown in basic outline. Features shown are rivers, market towns, boundaries and neighbouring counties. The Preface by John Aikin (1747-1822) states that ‘the principal object of this work is to make my young countrymen better acquainted than they are usually found to be with their native land’.
Aikin was born at Kibworth, Leicestershire, and following an apprenticeship with an apothecary in Uppingham, then a surgeon. He studied medicine at Edinburgh and Leyden. He pursued his practice in Great Yarmouth and London before suffering a stroke. As a bit of a dissenter he settled in Manchester and took up writing and befriended Joseph Priestley and Thomas Pennant. He has the distinction of being named in Karl Marx’s Das Kapital ‘What would the good Dr. Aikin say if he could rise from his grave and see the Manchester of today’. Provenance: bookplate and inscription of Richard Jennins pasted inside upper board; private English collection. Carroll (1996) 48; Chubb (1927) 289; refer Shirley (2004) T.Aik 1a.