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

The Mapping of North America

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FIRST STATE, OF WHICH ONLY TWO COMPLETE PACKS ARE KNOWN. An extremely scarce series of cartographic playing cards, the first available of the English counties. William Bowes published a series sometime at the beginning of the seventeenth century, but these are unobtainable. It might be expected with a pack of cards that any might be separated from the pack over time, but particularly the two extra cards which comprise a general map and the Explanation. The two complete sets known reside in the Schreiber Collection (E45) at the British Museum and in a private English collection. One other set has been made up to be complete by supplying the general map, present whereabouts unknown. There are a further four known complete sets of counties (52 cards) with one of the extra cards, of which this is one. The three others are as follows:

Whittaker Collection (38), Leeds (bound, 1 extra unidentified card)

Sir Thomas Phillips Collection sold Sotheby’s 30 June 1977 lot 4264 (bound, lacked Explanation)

Patino collection, sold Sotheby’s 12 November 2013 lot 114 (uncoloured, lacked general map)

This example of the cards is in the first state identified by the lack of names to the neighbouring counties. They all bear their relevant suit marks. Of the Morden cards only four totally complete sets (i.e. 52 plus 2 cards) are known. Only one of these is in private hands.

Following the Restoration of King Charles II there was much renewed interest in the pleasures of life in England. Amongst these was a keen desire for gaming, including the use of packs of cards. The mid-1670s saw a rush of cards bearing maps; those of Robert Morden and William Redmayne comprised the English and Welsh counties. This pack was first announced in the Easter Term Catalogues 5 May 1676 and are otherwise undated. They were advertised as being for sale ‘by Robert Morden at the Atlas in Cornhill, Will. Berry at the Globe in the Strand, Robert Green in Budge row, and George Minikin at the King’s Head in S. Martin’s’. Morden and Berry often worked together, and Green was also a noted map publisher. Minikin however was a stationer and bookseller, this being the only recorded cartographic work to which he was attached.

For each county Morden displays below the map its Length, Breadth and Circumference in Old English miles. Below that he gives the chief city or town and its distance from London, first in reputed and then measured miles according to John Ogilby. Lastly, he states their latitude. Each map bears the roads featured by Ogilby in his ‘Britannia’ of 1675 ‘with his leave’, the main ones double lined and minor ones identified by one. Each bears a compass for bearing. In each suit the King is represented by Charles II, the Queen by his consort Catherine of Braganza. The Jack or knave is illustrated by unidentified and different male heads. The remaining cards each bear engraved Roman and Arabic numerals, the latter sometimes obscured by the stencilled suit mark, particularly in the case of the black suits.

Provenance: Jonathan Potter 2008; private collection. Baynton-Williams, Ashley. (2005). ‘Robert Morden’s Playing Card Maps of England and Wales’, in MapForum no. 8 pp. 36-8 (featuring this example); Bennett (1996) pp. 14-15; King (2003) ‘Miniature Antique Maps’ p. 140; Mann, Sylvia and David Kingsley. (1972). ‘Playing Cards Depicting maps of the British Isles, and of English and Welsh Counties’, in The Map Collectors’ Circle, no. 87 pp. 3-4, 16-18, App. I no. 4, App. II no. 3, App. III no. 2, pl. XI; Shirley (2004) ‘Atlases in the British Library’ T.Mord 1a; Skelton 94; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011) pp. 462-4.

MORDEN, Robert

The 52 Counties of England and Wales ... in a pack of Cards

London, 1676
FIRST STATE, OF WHICH ONLY TWO COMPLETE PACKS ARE KNOWN. Fifty two cards of the counties of England and Wales plus description card, each with early outline colour and coloured stencil marks, (that of Lincolnshire supplied uncoloured), blank versos, lacking the sometimes found accompanying general map, 53 (of 54 cards), each c.93 x 57 mm., gilt edged, housed in recent green cloth solander box with green silk tie, in good condition.
Stock number: 10926


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