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LAURIE, Robert & WHITTLE, James

Laurie's New Traveller's Companion and Guide through the Roads of England and Wales, including Great part of Scotland; with a General Map

Robert Holmes Laurie, London, 1836
Quarto (275 x 185 mm.), early full limp red morocco, with locking flap and marbled endpapers. With engraved title page as above, 12 pp. of adverts, an Explanation and indexes, folding engraved general map of England and Wales and 25 double page engraved maps all in early outline colour, complete with blank endpapers. With some light offsetting, otherwise a fine example.
The firm of Laurie and Whittle relied heavily on the plates of Robert Sayer which were acquired following his death in 1794. 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 the ‘Laurie and Whittle’s New Traveller’s Companion’ which included road maps. They were compiled by Nathaniel Coltman who working for the Post Office was perfectly placed to produce them. Engraved by J. Bye, E. Jones, B. Smith and W. West they covered territory as far as the Isle of Wight and Scotland. The format was a change from the past which up to now had largely followed the strip map format devised by John Ogilby in 1675. Coltman produces here clear maps which cover larger areas for easier reference. The maps are strictly functional concentrating just on roads and distances, the earlier use of nearby features such as churches and hills is omitted. It was a success with a number of editions following and alterations were constantly made to the plates to bring them up-to-date.

In 1812 Robert Laurie retired and was replaced in the partnership by his son Richard Holmes Laurie and the firm changed its name to Whittle and Laurie. Then in 1818 James Whittle died and the firm became known as that of R. H. Laurie. The firm still exists today under the name Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson Ltd. This example from 1836 reflects those changes. Provenance: with manuscript inscription of ‘Geo Stockwell’ on the title page. Beresiner (1983) pp. 136-9; Carroll (1996) Appendix no. 16; Fordham (1924) p. 51.
Stock number: 9794

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