In 1820 Samuel Leigh (fl.1812-d.31) published the New Picture of England and Wales. It included one general map only, but stated ‘The proprietor has availed himself of the talents of Mr. Sidney Hall to project a series of correct county maps, the same size as this book, which may be had in a separate volume, with a complete Index of the towns, villages, etc.’. Leigh’s New Pocket Atlas of England and Wales was published in the same year. It was a miniature county atlas which proved successful. Sidney Hall (1788?-1831) engraved the series of maps which were derived from those of John Cary. Hall was a prolific engraver of the period and according to Worms and Baynton-Williams ‘was almost certainly the first engraver to use the new harder steel plates for map work, using plates manufactured by the Jacob Perkins process as early as 1821’.
In 1825 Leigh published an accompanying New Pocket Road Book which can be found alone or bound with the atlas as here. The extensive text provides fascinating descriptions of towns and places. The third edition was published by Mary Ann Leigh, wife to Samuel, who died by his own hand in 1831. The Preface indicates that the first two editions sold well and that the ‘Editor has carefully revised the whole, re-arranged the Cross-Roads on an improved plan, inserted Pleasure tours to the most picturesque parts of the country … which for fear of making the book too large prevented him from introducing into the former editions.’ Clearly this was the work of Samuel who died before publication, his widow seeing the work through. She ran the business for two years before a son joined as Leigh & Son. A further son, James Mathews Leigh (1808-60), was a noted art educator and painter. The maps themselves were continually updated with the latest canal and railway information, the latter are particularly notable. Provenance: private English collection. Chubb (1927) 380; Fordham (1924) p. 58; Tooley’s Dictionary (1999-2004); Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).