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COLE, George and ROPER, John

The British Atlas; comprising A Complete Set of County Maps, of England and Wales; with a General Map of Navigable Rivers and Canals; and Plans of Cities and Principal Towns

Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe; Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme; J. Harris; J. Cuthell; J. Cundee; W. Faden; J. and A. Arch; Crosby and Co.; J. Richardson; and J. M. Richardson, London, 1810
Quarto (290 x 230 mm.), full contemporary diced calf, gilt panelled, rebacked preserving original spine with raised bands, ornate gilt and blind decoration to compartments, gilt title, marbled endpapers. 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; those of 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 John Britton and Edward Wedlake 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, as here. Chubb had recorded a variant in the British Library where it has been corrected. The Isle of Wight is 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, John (1849) part 2 ‘A Descriptive Account of the Literary Works’ pp. 63-4; Carroll (1996) 62; Chubb (1927) 339; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).
Stock number: 10231

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