Folio (365 x 225 mm.), contemporary half dark blue calf, cloth boards gilt ruled, with gilt title to upper board, spine with raised bands, gilt ruled compartments and gilt title, light wear. With title and Preface with Contents on the verso, 47 chromolithographic maps of England and Wales and a ‘copious index of 13,000 names’ pp. 35, some light foxing, otherwise in good condition.
The firm of Letts, Son and Co. are best remembered in English minds by their diaries first published in 1835 by John Letts (1772-1851), the founder of the firm in 1809. It was his son Thomas (1804-73) who upon taking over the business, rapidly expanded the diaries and general publishing. This particular series of maps began life as John and Charles Walker’s ‘British Atlas’ in 1837. From about 1849 they were also published concurrently as lithographs in ‘Hobson’s Fox-Hunting Atlas’ by William Colling Hobson. Charles Walker died in 1872 and John the following year. Further lithographic transfers were published as ‘Letts’s Popular County Atlas’ in 1884 by the Letts firm. Thomas Letts had died in 1873 and by 1885 the firm was in liquidation. The rights to the diary were taken over by Cassell, Petter and Galpin who continued to publish using the Letts name. The atlas was acquired by Mason & Payne who published one further edition offered here, in 1887, again retaining the Letts name. The Preface is reissued with a further Preface to the second edition stating that ‘though the printing and publishing has passed into other hands, the Editor has not been changed, so that this edition has been carried out on the same lines as the first.’ The maps are further updated. A further interesting alteration is the titles reference to the ‘Copious Index’ which previously referred to 18,000 names. Although unchanged it now reflects a more accurate total of 13,000, some artistic license being taken in the first.
Letts’s ‘Popular County Atlas’ consists of a general map, 42 maps of the English counties including the 3 Yorkshire Ridings, and maps of the four quarters of Wales. Each map is detailed and coloured. The Preface announces the detail enclosed including ‘the recent earthquake in Essex’. The map itself with a ‘Red Cross, thus X denotes recorded locations of Earthquake Shock, April 22nd, 1884. Size of the Cross represents comparative intensity.’ Beresiner (1983) pp. 143-4. Carroll (1996) no. 105.N; Tooley’s Dictionary (1999-2004).