The contribution of John Bill (fl.1591-d.1630) to cartography was limited to two works, this one and the English edition of Abraham Ortelius’ atlas in folio entitled Theatre of the World co-published with John Norton. Bill was a noted bookseller who was apprenticed to John Norton in 1592. His talent in Latin soon caught the attention of Sir Thomas Bodley who from about 1599 commissioned him to travel and acquire books on his behalf. He started his own business in 1603 and became the Kings printer in 1604.
The maps in the Abridgement of Camden’s Britannia are reductions of those by Christopher Saxton and are the earliest of the English counties to have longitude and latitude marked. The Prime Meridian used is the Azores and the engraver is still unknown. Estimates of only 200 copies being printed have been cited. The map of Cornwall is cartographically improved with the peninsula being orientated more correctly on a north-east to south-west line than found on Saxton or Speed’s maps. Provenance: private English collection. Beresiner (1983) p. 54; Quixley (1966) 9; Shirley (2004) T.Camd 3a; Skelton (1970) 15; STC 4527; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).