A fine example of one of the rarest states of the Christopher Saxton map of Radnor, Brecon, Cardigan and Caermarthen. With inset plans of Caermarthen, Breknoke, Radnor and Cardigan. Only five examples of the atlas survive. At first glance one might be inclined to think this is the Philip Lea edition however closer examination reveals the presence of George Willdey’s imprint lower right. The date of the death of Philip Lea’s widow Anne is unknown but on 5 August 1730 the “Daily Journal” carried an advertisement announcing the sale by auction of “all the Copper Plates belonging to the Estate of Mrs. Anne Lea, deceased … with all the County Maps of Great Britain and Ireland”. From 1709 early in his career Willdey was advertising maps for sale. Willdey’s first advertisement announcing the county plates was placed in the Daily Post for 3 February 1732 (illustrated in Hodson I p. 142). They were sold individually for 4d. each. In none his adverts up to his death in November 1737 does he mention the county maps be bound as an atlas with a title-page. However in 1721 when advertising his series of two sheet maps he stated that ‘This Set of Maps may be fitted up several ways and sizes, or bound in a Book, or sold single, to fit Gentlemens Conveniency …’ It can be assumed that he would be just as accommodating with the single sheet county maps and that therefore a c.1732 date is reasonable for the atlas.
Willdey’s last advert was placed in the ‘Daily Post’, 12 November 1737, which carried in its news columns the announcement that ‘Yesterday Morning died of an Apopletick Fit, Mr. Willdey, who kept the noted great Toyshop at the Corner of Ludgate-street by St. Paul’s; said to have died very rich.’ Curiously although all the newspapers agreed he died on 11 November his will is signed 12 November. The business was continued by Thomas Willdey although it is not clear whether this his George’s brother, or son. Thomas died in 1748 and the business was closed as there were many creditors. Hodson I no. 183; Shirley ‘Atlases in the British Library’, T.Sax 1j; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).