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CAMDEN, William

Guili. Camdeni Viri Clarissimi Britannia, sive florentiss. Regnorum Angliae, Scotiae, Hiberniae, Insularumq, Adiacentium ex intima antiquitate Descriptio

Guilielmum Blaeu, Amsterdam, 1639
Duodecimo (125 x 70 mm.), full contemporary calf, gilt panelled, spine with raised bands, gilt ruled compartments, red calf gilt title label affixed. With typographic title page including printers vignette device, Lector, Index Tabularum and index, pp. 458, [10], with 19 engraved maps, first map with exposed fold damage, otherwise in good condition.
This is an illustrated pocket edition of William Camden’s ‘Britannia’ first published in 1586. An issue with county maps had been contemplated since at least 1589 but would not appear until 1607. ‘No praise was thought too high for the ‘Britannia” (Taylor). Camden (1551-1623) was an antiquary and historian. An academic by profession he would become the headmaster of Westminster School in 1593. He spent much of his time travelling and collecting material for his highly respected ‘Britannia’. It is a noble piece of literature carefully composed over many years and is the fruit of deep and diligent research. It was the first great history of the Islands. An instant success it would go on to many editions over the ensuing two centuries.

This edition in Latin was published by the powerful Dutch map publisher Willem Blaeu. To illustrate it he used some of the copper plate maps he had acquired from Petrus Bertius a few years earlier. Bertius had published a miniature atlas entitled ‘Petri Bertii Tabularum Geographicarum Contractarum’ in 1616. That expanded edition contained an enlarged number of plates reduced from the Mercator-Hondius folio atlas published in Amsterdam in 1606. Further editions appeared in Latin and French in 1618. Sometime after they were acquired by Blaeu who gave his son Joan the task of publishing an ‘Atlas Minor’ in 1637 which survives today in just three known complete examples. The nineteen plates relating to the British Isles were included in this, Willem Blaeu’s edition of the ‘Britannia’ in 1639. The three general maps of England, Scotland and Ireland are engraved by Salomon Rogiers. Provenance: manuscript inscription on the title page of ‘R. Belwood’ (repeated on following page), Roger Belwood (-1694?) of Middle-Temple and ‘Jo. Comins’; ‘Georgii Dickins M.D’ on ensuing page. Chubb (1927) 55; Shirley (2004) T.Camd 4a; Skelton (1970) 24 & pp. 227-8.
Stock number: 9899

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