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,
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 76 33 13

The publication of John Ogilby’s ‘Britannia’ was a landmark moment in the mapping of England and Wales. For the first time a lot of data was available on the road network. It is well known that the first atlas derivatives of the work were all pocket size in nature. These were published by Thomas Gardner in 1719, John Senex in 1719, and Emanuel Bowen in 1720. There was also an unfinished work instigated by Herman Moll in 1718. What is less well known is that the Ogilby data first appeared in a series of maps in which the roads were the main feature.

The first map derived from the work of Ogilby was published by John Adams in twelve sheets in 1677. That map and his two-sheet derivative published in 1679 were both accurate maps in that the roads were laid onto a normal map. However, an extremely rare series of diagrammatic maps also appeared. The roads are the main feature of these maps and are laid down in virtually straight double ruled lines. The computed distance in miles between towns is plotted. The majority were separately issued and are extremely rare.

The first diagrammatic map identified by Shirley was that of William Berry in 1679. This did not even bear a coastline, only double ruled lines across the map to indicate the roads. Shirley however made no mention of the inspiration for these which began with this series of five so-called word-maps published by Thomas Bassett and Richard Chiswell in their edition of the folio Speed atlas in 1675. Ogilby’s ‘Britannia’ was certainly available by 18-22 November 1675 when it was advertised for sale in the ‘London Gazette’. By 13-17 January 1676 Ogilby was complaining in the same journal that ‘Certia[sic] tables being taken out of Mr. Ogilby’s Britannia, and Printed in five sheets with Mr. Speeds Maps’.

They were printed from woodblocks with inset metal type. Ogilby’s data is broken down into five regions: the North-Road, North-West-Road, West-Road, Western-Road, and ‘South-East, South and South-west-roads’. Here is an example of the ‘West-road’ to Bristol which also displays routes to Poole, ‘Exceter’, Worcester, Chester, and Glocester. Hodson describes them thus: ‘Each map comprises a sequence of place-names arranged in order, so as to indicate the approximate directions of each route on an imaginary map of England and Wales. Each of the five plates is devoted to one main route, from London, with its branches. In every case the primary road is depicted by a central stem of place-names along the route, with London at the bottom and the destination town at the top. The main branches leave this stem at the appropriate point and some of these, in turn, have sub-branches. Attached to most, but not all, of the names is a mileage figure representing the computed distances along the route; there are no cumulative mileage figures.’

They were to be included in their own tall slim duodecimo work later in 1676 entitled ”The English Travellers Companion’. Only two examples are recorded, in the British Library (Maps C.21.b.16(1) and the Royal Geographical Society (F137). In this they are folded three times to fit. These examples are the first issue from the atlas and have only the usual centrefold. It would have been obvious at the time that the folio sized ‘Britannia’ was impractical to carry on the road and that more portable derivatives were required. These are the very first, issued within weeks of the book’s availability. A reflection of its immediate impact.

Ogilby’s reaction was to apply for a License granted to him on 31 March 1676 to publish ‘Mr. Ogilby’s Tables of his Measur’d Roads’ which was issued in tall narrow duodecimo in the same year. Examples of this work survive in the British Library. Ogilby himself died 4 September 1676. Delano-Smith & Kain (1999) pp. 168-72; Fordham (1924) pp. 10-11; Hodson (2000) pp. 493-7; Shirley (1988); Skelton (1970) 92; Tyacke (1978) 49; Woodward (1978) pp. 174-5.

BASSETT, Thomas & CHISWELL, Richard

The West-road from London to Bristol; and its Branches to several of the principal Towns, with their computed distances

London, 1675
405 x 360 mm., in good condition.
Stock number: 9590
£ 395
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