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

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
P.O. Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
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One of the rarest states of Christopher Saxton’s map of the counties of Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Rutland. These counties were surveyed early in 1576 according to Evans and Lawrence but the engraver is unknown. Saxton (1542?-1610?) was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. While the details of his early life are sketchy, it is known that he attended Cambridge University, and in 1570 he was apprenticed as a map maker to John Rudd, vicar of Dewsbury.

Saxton produced one of the earliest national surveys of any kind and the first uniformly conceived cartographic survey of England and Wales. It was begun in about 1574 and completed by 1579: “in the long list of British atlases the first name is also the greatest, the name of Christopher Saxton” (Chubb). Evans and Lawrence wrote that he “left a legacy of maps of the counties of England and Wales from which succeeding generations of map-makers drew extensively … amazingly accurate in detail, [the atlas] survives as testimony to his expertise when surveying techniques and comprehension of the mathematical sciences were still limited.” They are arguably the most highly prized by collectors of county maps.

Over the years the plate had been updated. For the ill-fated c.1665 edition town plans of Northampton, ‘Oukham’, Huntington, ‘Bedforde’ and ‘Peterburgh’ were added, all after those of John Speed. Philip Lea flourished from 1666-1700 as a cartographer, globe, instrument maker and mapseller. He published the Saxton plates from 1689. Lea gradually effected the alterations to the plates he desired which included converting the remaining Latin titles to English, the addition of crowns, crosses and mitres to represent various categories of town. Roads were added to the maps following the publication of John Ogilby’s landmark ‘Britannia’ in 1675. Similarly, Hundreds were added to the remaining maps as were town plans. The finished set of plates was complete by 1693 and represents their final cartographic form as only the imprints were altered after this date.

The plates then passed to George Willdey (1676?-1737) who applied his imprint below the margin lower left. Thomas Willdey, successor to George, died in 1748 and the business was closed as there were many creditors. It would seem logical to assume that it was sometime shortly after that Thomas Jefferys (1719-71) acquired them. Only two years earlier he had been appointed Geographer to the Prince of Wales and was just finding his feet. He began his esteemed career as an engraver and turned to publishing. No doubt these plates came his way at a tempting price. The atlas was not advertised and Jefferys was content to sell the maps loose only binding a collection of the maps on request. Certainly, this is supported by the fact that only FOUR EXAMPLES SURVIVE. Jeffery’s removed the imprint of Willdey and in most cases it is otherwise difficult to differentiate this state from that of Philip Lea previously. An extremely rare edition. Provenance: private English collection. Deadman & Brooks ‘Rutland’ p. 46; Evans & Lawrence (1979) pp. 53-8 & 163; Hodson (1984-97) I no. 184; Shirley (2004) T.Sax 1k; Skelton (1970) nos. 110, 112 & 113; Whitaker (1948) 202; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).

SAXTON, Christopher – JEFFERYS, Thomas

The County of Northampton togeather with ye three small Counties of Bedford Huntingdon and Rutland, exactly drawen by one Scale by C.S. Corrected & Amended with many Additions By P. Lea

Philip Lea, London, 1576-[1693]
EXTREMELY RARE FINAL STATE OF SAXTON’S MAP. 400 x 525 mm., early outline colour, in excellent condition.
Stock number: 10976
£ 1,500
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