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COOKE, George Alexander

Topography of Great Britain: or, British Traveller's Directory, and Travelling Companion

Printed for C. Cooke, No. 17, Paternoster Row, by Brimmer and Co., Water Lane, Fleet Street, And sold by all the Booksellers in the United Kingdom, London, c.1812
Octavo, twenty six volumes (145 x 90 mm. each), in contemporary half green calf, marbled paper boards, ribbed spines with gilt ruled compartments, gilt titles. With typographic titles to each part, 45 maps, all in early wash colour, with some show through and foxing, otherwise in good condition.
In 1806 Charles Cooke (1750-1816) began a part issue work on county topography generally entitled ‘Topography of Great Britain’. Carroll identified an advert in the ‘Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury’ for 14 February 1806 offering the first part on Cornwall, for 1s.6d. A further announcement on 21 November 1806 lists 9 counties, that of Lancashire forming parts 8 & 9. On 26 August 1808 it was stated that the final counties would be issued at the rate of one per month. The series is believed to have been completed in 1810 but I have not found any conclusive evidence of that. The author George Alexander Cooke, whose name prominently appears on the title page is according to Tooley’s ‘Dictionary’, of no relation.

This is another confusing work bibliographically. It is undated and appears to have been issued with two different general titles. Initially as ‘The Modern British Traveller: or, Tourist’s Pocket Directory’, and as the ‘Topography of Great Britain or British Traveller’s Directory, and Travelling Companion’.

The introductory fourteen pages are bound before the county of Cornwall which, as evidenced above, was the first part to be published. The are bound generally in pairs of counties. The text to each county contains a distance table, itineraries of main routes and extensive descriptive text. It was advertised that there were two versions. An uncoloured one and a superior one ‘on large wove vellum paper … with a coloured map 2s.6d.’ Indeed, each map bears the inscription below detailing the colour key ‘which distinctions are peculiar to the Superior Edition’. Scotland is here represented by a map of South Scotland and a folding uncoloured map of the whole by Robins.

Charles Cooke ceased business in 1817 and died before 1822. Copyright was assigned by his executors to Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, Paternoster-Row. This firm continued in business until 1849 working in a variety of partnerships. Provenance: private English collection. Beresiner (1983) pp. 92-3; refer Chubb (1927) 305; Carroll (1996) 63.
Stock number: 10237

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