400 x 490 mm., early outline colour, trimmed to margin with manuscript margin replacement to the top, professionally re-margined, light soiling in places, two very small holes at centrefold visible only when held up to the light, otherwise a presentable map.
John Overton (1640-1713) was the son of a bookseller Henry Overton and married the daughter of the publisher William Garrett. He was a printseller who in 1665 acquired the stock of Peter Stent who died of the plague that year and who had arguably the largest collection of prints on the market at the time. Amongst this stock he found twelve copper plates of the English counties by William Smith. These formed the nucleus of a set of maps of the English Counties. Overton commissioned the engraving of some new plates for missing counties; amongst them is one of Berkshire by the great engraver Wenceslaus Hollar. Those counties which Overton could not provide from his own stock were supplied by the acquired maps of Speed, Blaeu or Jansson. These county atlases were an English version of a rich seam of similar Dutch composite atlases published from the mid-seventeenth century. They are exceedingly rare surviving in just four known examples. Later atlases sold by his son Henry are similarly rare, only seven survive.
Until about 1711 both John and Henry Overton had been content to acquire the plates of Jansson and others to fill in the missing counties in their supply. Most of those of Blaeu had been lost in the disastrous fire of 1672. Quite probably around 1711 the plates of Jansson were acquired by David Mortier who possibly stopped supplying the Overton firm. This forced Henry to engrave maps of those missing counties. He employed the services of Sutton Nicholls who promptly produced five maps between 1711 and 1712. Production was halted when in about 1713 fortune gave Henry the opportunity to acquire the old John Speed plates from Christopher Browne. A copy of Jansson’s map, from a new plate engraved by Sutton Nicholls, but with the roads and two text boxes added. Chubb (1913) pp. 45-46; not in Michael (1985).