Oblong quarto (230 x 295 mm.), modern half red calf, preserving original paper boards with ornate printed panels. Spine with gilt ruled compartments and title. With finely engraved title page, typographic title, Advertisement, Contents, engraved Explanation in early colour and 48 engraved maps (West Riding in 2 sheets) all in fine early outline colour, each accompanied by a leaf of descriptive text. Residue of old tape to gutter prior to rebinding on two leaves near the front, otherwise in good condition.
The majority of the plates for this atlas were first issued in the ‘Universal Magazine’ from 1791 to 1798 and are engraved by Benjamin Baker (1766-1841) who was particularly active through 1824 as an engraver for the Ordnance Survey. These early Surveys are highly prized for their detail. The publisher of the ‘Universal Magazine’ was William Bent. In 1804 the plates appeared in a rare atlas entitled ‘Maps of the Several Counties and Shires in England’ by William Darton (1755-1819) and Joseph Harvey (1764-1841). Then they were acquired by the firm of Laurie and Whittle. Often thought of as mere publishers Robert Laurie (1755-1836) was a noted craftsman. He was a talented mezzotint engraver who invented a method of mezzotint printing in colour, an achievement that won him an award from the Royal Society of Arts in 1776. In the early 1790s he entered the publishing business with James Whittle (1757-1818) as his partner. The acquisition of Sayer’s stock catapulted them into the major league.
In 1806 they published a road book entitled ‘Laurie and Whittle’s New Traveller’s Companion’ which included road maps. The following year this work was published having clearly just acquired the Baker plates of the English counties. Three further maps were supplied including the general map dated 1801 by Laurie and Whittle, an apparently new plate of the Isle of Wight engraved by Baker and dated 1806 and a general map of Yorkshire to complement those of the Ridings also dated 1806. The descriptions include a wealth of information including the population data gathered by the Government in 1801. An interesting note on the Explanation states ‘The connection of the Turnpike Roads from one County to another, are shown by Reference Letters’. This feature was of course first introduced by John Cary in 1793. Beresiner p. 50; Carroll 53; Chubb 294; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).