ONE OF ONLY THREE KNOWN BOUND COLLECTIONS OF FIRST STATE MAPS. The ‘Political Magazine’ began publishing in January 1780 at the hands of John Bew, bookseller and publisher of 29 Paternoster Row, London. From the beginning, Bew was keen to continue the tradition of eighteenth century Magazines of including maps. As an engraver, he employed John Lodge ((fl.1755-96) who had previously worked for the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’. In April 1782, a map of Ireland was published, one of Scotland in October 1784 and finally England and Wales in November 1785. John Murray (1737-93) joined Bew in partnership in February 1785 and from April of that year was in sole control.
January 1787 saw the publication of Middlesex, followed by the Isle of Wight and Kent by May. By then a plan had clearly formulated to publish a full series of the county maps as from the following issue of June 1787 the county maps were issued in alphabetical order virtually monthly. In October 1789 Robert Butters (fl.1772-1809) of Fleet Street took control and continued the work with the publication of Oxford through completion in December 1790 with that of Yorkshire. It was to be the very last issue of the work.
The county maps up to Northamptonshire with the sole exception of Nottingham are all in the very rare first state bearing reference to the ‘Political Magazine’ and date of issue in the upper right corner. The name of Lodge as engraver appears lower right along with the publisher’s imprint below and a further date. The imprints on the maps reflect the change of ownership with the counties. The ensuing maps are all made up from the second state in which the imprints are removed. Traces of old folds on the earlier maps indicate this example is made up of magazine issues of the maps. The three general maps published some time before the counties were started are included.
The atlas is very rare but is always found in a state where all imprints are removed from the plates. None of the known examples provide any publisher information, all lack a title page, but one or two examples bear a title label affixed to the upper board reading ‘Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland’. There is no date although Fordham recorded an example with a watermark date of 1795 present.
The references to Cluer Dicey in some carto-bibliographies refer to a copy of the last composite Henry Overton atlas held at Pembroke College, Cambridge. In this example, several of the Lodge plates are pasted in, which of course provides no further bibliographical information to us. It is unlikely to be John Lodge who was most likely employed to engrave the plates for the publisher’s and who died 1796. The most likely candidate for issuing the bound collections is Robert Butters. He was the final publisher of the ‘Political Magazine’ and therefore the most likely owner of the plates at this point. Why though, were the imprints removed for the second issue?
Provenance: the following all inscribed on first front free endpaper, ‘Amelia Gillman from Grandma Gillman 1854’, ‘W. Gray family map book’, ‘Henry Gray, 32 Dean St. Soho West, London, August 19 1877 Given to him by his affectionate father’. Carroll (1996) 51; Chubb (1927) 249; Harris, F. J. T. & Angel, J. L., ‘A History of Paper Making in and Near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, England’, in ‘Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal’ for 1975 pages 9-65; Hodson (1984-97) p. 70; Jolly (1990) I pp. 145-72; refer Shirley (2004) T.Lod 1a (second edition); Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).