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

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
P.O. Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
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A very fresh example of one of the rarest editions of John Speed’s folio atlas. Hodson recorded only two complete examples, I have now identified seven. Following Henry Overton’s acquisition of the Speed plates from Christopher Browne in 1713, the printed maps had only been available in loose form. Clients did request them to be bound as atlases and a few survive. But until 1743 there was no intention on Overton’s behalf to publish an atlas. Neither of the two adverts located refer to the maps being available in this manner. In February 1743 the papers of the day carried an advertisement stating ‘Lately Re-Printed, Speed’s Sett of the Counties of England and Wales … each printed on a Sheet of Royal Paper neatly colour’d and bound in Marble Paper, with red Leather Backs and Corners. Price 18s. Sold either in Setts or single Maps, by Henry Overton …’ These were available either ‘Coloured or Plain’ according to the index in the atlas. The reason for its issue is unclear.

Following the earliest known issue of the maps whilst in Overton’s possession, two further distinct periods of issue can be defined before this atlas edition. Following the Jacobite rising in 1715 five of the northern county maps were revised to include Henry Overton’s imprint, those of Cumberland, Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland and Westmoreland. They all included roads and in the case of Northumberland, this can be sourced to the John Warburton map of the county published in August 1716. Of this Speed—Overton II as it is called there are two known examples. During this period the plates became very worn and Overton had many of them retouched. There are two known examples falling into this classification of which only one survives.

For this final issue in atlas form, many of the old dates on the plates were removed crudely. Also, for a reason unknown, the date 1738 was added to that of Huntington. This Speed — Overton IV as it is classified, contained the same engraved title page by Robert White (1646-1703), with the addition of ‘by John Speed. Reprinted Anno, 1743.’ The typographic index is entirely re-set with the title ‘A Sett of the Counties of England and Wales, with their Ilands, containing Fifty Eight MAPS; each on a Sheet of Royal Paper. By JOHN SPEED. Reprinted in the YEAR, 1743. With ADDITIONS.’ There follows a list of the 58 maps after which is an advert stating ‘Sold either in Compleat Setts, Bound, or Single, either Coloured or Plain … Neatly Bound in Marble Paper, with Leather Back, and Corners, Coloured, Price 1l. 4s.’ Overton’s two sheet atlas of the world is also noted.

Known complete examples:

Burden collection

Cambridge University Library (Atlas 3.74.3)

Phillips auction, 30 April 1987 lot 477 to Burgess

Bonham’s, London 27 March 2007 lot 469 (with other maps)

Bonham’s, London 11 November 2015 lot 146 (with 6 additional maps)

Sizergh Castle, Cumbria, National Trust

This example

The Speed — Overton atlas, or collection of maps, was still available for sale on 7 October 1745 during the Jacobite rising when an advert was placed in the ‘General Advertiser’. The atlas no doubt continued to be available until his death in 1751 and was probably still available at the hands of his successor, his son, also Henry Overton. Although Henry the Younger remained in business until at least 1763, it is known that by 1754 he had sold the Speed plates to the firm of William and Cluer Dicey who list them in their catalogue of that date (Bodleian 258.c.109).

Provenance: undeciphered manuscript inscription upper corner inside front board; bookplates of Richard Heywood Thompson (1850-1935) and Lieut.-Col. Cecil Henry Fairer Thompson D.S.O., O.B.E., T.D., both of Nunwick Hall, Penrith, both at one time High Sheriffs of Cumberland; Sotheby’s, 21 June 1977 lot 345 to Francis Edwards; Clive A. Burden Ltd., June 1990; private foreign collection. Chubb (1927) 31; not in the ESTC; Hodson (1984) 138; Shirley (2004) T-Spe 1n; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011) pp. 503-5.

SPEED, John – OVERTON, Henry

England Fully Described in a Compleat Sett of Mapps of ye County's of England and Wales, with their Islands. Containing in all 58 Mapps

Printed & Sold by Henry Overton at ye white Horse without Newgate, London, 1743
ONE OF THE RAREST EDITIONS OF SPEED. Folio (435 x 290 mm.), contemporary quarter calf, marbled paper boards, spine with raised bands, black calf gilt title label affixed, light wear. With engraved title page dated 1743, ‘A Sett of the Counties of England and Wales’ with contemporary manuscript notations, and 58 double-page engraved maps, all in fine early outline colour, front free endpaper with light waterstain, wormtrack though lower corner of first few leaves, mostly in the margin, Lincoln with wax mark, Northumberland with old repaired tear, final map with wrinkle to right side, otherwise in good condition.
Stock number: 10728
£ 42,500
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