Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

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This is a rare, important plan of Chester and one of the earliest large scale plans of the city. It is one of many published in the middle of the eighteenth century which importantly record cities before rapid industrialisation. The copper-engraved plan is by the surveyor Alexander De Lavaux about who little is known other than his self styled description as an Engineer. The engraving is attributed to Richard Parr (fl.1723-51) who worked especially closely with John Rocque the great publisher of many large scale maps. Quite how that is known we have been unable to find out as his imprint does not appear on the map. The plan displays clearly how the city had already grown beyond its ancient walls. It is shown before the construction of the Chester Canal in 1779. The detail is remarkable with notable town resident’s buildings being identified as are all of the roads including even the Maypole on Northgate Street. Each individual field is laid out according to its usage. To the left of the map the River Dee takes an apparent unnatural course which is entirely man-made. During the eighteenth century Chester’s trade had diminished considerably thanks to the gradual decrease in the navigability of the river. Using engineers from the Netherlands an artificial channel was excavated 1732-36. It was paid for by local merchants and the Chester Corporation.

This is an interesting example and apparently an UNRECORDED STATE because it looks like it was pulled from a plate with trimmed left and right edges. A heavy plate-mark can clearly be seen suggesting that possibly due to wear or damage the copper was trimmed to make it usable again. No neatline was introduced so we have the appearance of missing sheets. Comparison with an example of the first state indicates that about 15 mm. on the left and some 95 mm. on the right have been trimmed. No other example appears to have been traced. When it was printed cannot be determined but the paper can clearly be identified as eighteenth century as it bears chain lines and a water mark “IV”. It also appears in his stock list for c.1761, so that date is given as an approximation. A further example in the same state was identified in 2021 in the Bibliotheque nationale, Paris (GE BB-565 (A1,95)). Provenance: private American collection. Catalogue of British Town Maps 19651; Refer Tooley, Cheshire in ‘The Map Collector’ no. 17 p. 25 Ch44.

DE LAVAUX, Alexander

Plan of the City & Castle of Chester

London, 1745-[c.61]
625 x 795 mm., with horizontal fold near the bottom placed at some time to allow binding in a book. Some light repair to double fold as to be expected, a 100 mm. repaired tear, just to the left of the lower centrefold, the top and right folds with small repaired tear, otherwise in good condition.
Stock number: 5981
£ 1,250
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