This work makes use of the process of lithography to draw from the exceedingly rare Thomas Crabb copper plates. Here the imprint and plate number are removed and railways added. The title is now plain without the panel and each now has a pictorial surround. As the Preface states the book is for the juvenile market and meant to be an ‘Introduction to the English Counties’. The vignettes illustrate ‘various topographical peculiarities and historical events, which will tend more effectually to fix the Counties on the recollection’. The accompanying text aims to ‘attain comprehensiveness and brevity’.
William Darton Junior (1781-1854) was joined in 1830 by his son John Maw Darton (1809-81) and shortly after the name was changed to Darton & Son. The partnership was dissolved when William Darton retired in 1837. At some time around 1841 he was joined by the educationalist Samuel Clark (1810-75). He was born to a middle-class Quaker family in Southampton and unwillingly went to work for his father aged thirteen and a half as a brush and basket maker. Well read, he moved to London in 1836 before joining Darton in partnership. After matriculating from Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in 1839, he pursued both business and a degree. He wrote to fund his college expenses.
He wrote under the pseudonym of Reuben Ramble and designed this atlas for children. The reference works normally place a date of c.1845 on this work, however it is made up of five parts, the southern and western parts of which we have had with ownership inscriptions dated December 1843. Indeed, this is supported by the fact that the ‘Oxford Dictionary of National Biography’ states ‘in 1843, he dissolved his partnership with Darton, and went abroad with Edward Strachey, visiting Italy and Greece’. He would go on to become the Rector of Eaton-Bishop.
As referred to above the work was issued in parts. The five consist of Southern, Northern, Western, Midland and Eastern regions. Each contain 8 maps and their accompanying text. The Southern part commencing with Surrey is usually, but not always the first part. The ensuing order does vary. Provenance: with inscription on front free endpaper ‘Mary … Given her by her Grandmama Sep. 13. 1844’; private English collection. Beresiner (1983) pp. 96-7 & 183; Carroll (1996) 74A; Chubb (1927) 517; ODNB; Smith (1982) pp. 190-1; Tooley’s Dictionary (1999-2004); Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).