Quarto (360 x 265 mm.), LARGE PAPER COPY, contemporary half calf, marbled paper boards with gilt ruling, spine with gilt ruled compartments, each with central gilt floral feature, with gilt title, light wear. With typographic title, contents, 2 general maps of England and Wales, 56 further maps of the counties all in early outline colour and 21 town plans. In good condition.
Very little is known about either George Cole or John Roper (1771-1810). The latter appears to have engraved the plates to the atlas from the drawings of Cole. Two however were not engraved by him, Cheshire and Caernarvonshire. The publishers were the established firm of Vernor, Hood and Sharpe who began publishing the ‘British Atlas’ in parts from October 1804. An example in parts survives at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Thomas Vernor was the senior partner having been a bookseller since 1766. Thomas Hood joined him in partnership in 1794 followed by Sharpe in 1806.
The maps were originally produced to accompany J. Britton and E. W. Brayley’s ‘Beauties of England and Wales’ issued 1801-16 in twenty-five volumes, a statement to which effect is found on most of them. The maps and text were however never issued together. The maps announcement appears in part 32 issued in May 1804. The first part of ‘The British Atlas’ appeared in October 1804, each would contain two maps and one town plan, or three county maps. The final part was published 1 October 1808. Britton’s autobiography states that the maps were reduced from ‘original surveys … published by Mr. Faden whose permission was exclusively granted …’ The maps are very attractive. The complete work was published under the same title in 1810 by a conglomerate of ten different publishers.
The contents leaf stated that the atlas contained 57 maps and 22 plans. It did not list that of the Isle of Wight which is always present and the list of town plans includes one of Shrewsbury which was never issued. Therefore, the true count is always 58 maps and 21 town plans. Most examples of the atlas contain a contents leaf with these errors. Chubb had recorded a variant in the British Library which matches this example. Here it has been corrected, with the Isle of Wight now named and Shrewsbury removed from the contents list. At the same time the numeric counts above each section have been corrected and now read ’58 Maps’ instead of ’57’ and ’21 Plans’ instead of ’22’. Provenance: private English collection. Beresiner (1983) pp. 88-90; Britton (1849) part 2 ‘A Descriptive Account of the Literary Works’ pp. 63-4; Carroll (1996) 62; Chubb (1927) 339; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).