David Loggan’s beautiful plan of the city of Oxford from BEN JONSON’S COPY OF THE SPEED ATLAS of 1631. Ben Jonson’s (1572- 1637) library is celebrated as being the first of a major literary figure to survive in any great quantity. David McPherson in his 1974 work identifies 206 books, mostly in institutions. The Speed was his only atlas and was ‘unquestionably the most luxurious and valuable book he is known to have owned’ (Quaritch). The atlas was described as being rebound in the late seventeenth century at which point no doubt this plate by Loggan was inserted. It is an example of the first state of one of the earliest plans of the city as published in Loggan’s magnificent ‘Oxonia Illustrata’ published in Oxford 1675. The book is generally considered one of the finest English engraved topographical works of the seventeenth century. The city is depicted with remarkable accuracy and bears a numbered key to churches, colleges and other major buildings.
Loggan (1635-1700?) was born in Danzig and came to England about 1653. By 1665 he was living near Oxford and in 1669 was appointed engraver to the University. In the year the ‘Oxonia’ was published he married. The work often thought to have been printed at the Sheldonian was in fact run off at Leonard Lichfield’s house in Holywell.
“No records concerning Jonson’s honorary degree from Cambridge or of the Oxford conferral survive, but in July 1619 Jonson was formally inducted into the Oxford degree, and, according to Anthony Wood, spent some time in residence at Christ Church at the invitation of his old friend Richard Corbett (Wood, Ath. Oxon., 1st edn, 1.518). Jonson later extended the circle of his Oxford friendships to include the learned group (of which Hobbes, Chillingworth, and Clarendon, were prominent members) which gathered at the house of Lucius Cary, Lord Falkland, at Great Tew.” (ODNB).
Provenance: Lord Egerton of Tatton Park, Cheshire; Sotheby’s London 14 December 1953 lot 650 (the atlas) for £200 to Gledhill; Bernard Quaritch Ltd., c.1985. Griffiths ‘The Print in Stuart Britain 1603-1689’ pp. 201-03; McPherson, David (1974) ‘Ben Jonson’s Library and Marginalia: An Annotated Catalogue’, in ‘Studies in Philology, 71 no. 176; Shirley ‘Atlases in the British Library’, T.Spe 1f & 2b; Skelton (1970) 18; Upcott Oxford 34; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).