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SMITH, William

Vigorniensis (vulgo Worcestershire) Comitatus Descriptio, Continens in se (Praeter Civitatum Vigorniae) oppida Mercatoria Novem, Ecclesiasq. Parochiales CLII.

London, 1602
355 x 470 mm., in old outline and wash colour, with two small wormholes and lower centre margin tear just into the image repaired, otherwise in good condition.
The EXTREMELY RARE FIRST STATE of William Smith’s map of the county of Worcestershire. INDEED, UNTIL 1984 NO EXAMPLE WAS KNOWN TO HAVE SURVIVED. William Smith (1546-1618) was educated at Oxford and from an early age he was interested in maps as his first surviving work is a town plan of 1568. In 1572-73 he translated the text of the German edition of Abraham Ortelius’ ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’ into English; this was sold at Sotheby’s in 1986. He was a resident of Nuremberg from c.1575-c.1584 where he worked as the landlord of the Golden Goose Inn on what is now the Winklerstrasse, at a time when the town was the principal map-making centre of south Germany. He produced a description of Nuremberg with a mixture of views, town plans, regional maps and descriptive text of the town’s history, economy and constitution. It undoubtedly provided the inspiration to John Norden’s similar later works of the counties. In 1581 he provided George Braun and Frans Hogenberg with a plan of Bristol which was included in their third volume of the ‘Civitates Orbis Terrerum’. Upon his return to England he produced manuscript maps of Cheshire and Lancashire. A map of Staffordshire dated 1599 exists in the William Salt Library, Stafford. In 1597 he was appointed to the College of Arms as ‘Rouge Dragon Pursuivant’ which provided the means and encouragement for him to think of producing a county atlas.

This map of Worcestershire is one of an unfinished series of twelve county maps that were engraved by Jodocus Hondius from 1602-03. The evidence for this comes from William Burton’s preface to ‘The Description of Leicestershire’ 1622 in which he states that the map of Leicestershire and Rutland dated 1602 ‘was graven at Amsterdam by Jodocus Hondius’. The group of twelve maps were intended for publication, it is assumed by Hans Woutneel (fl.1576-after 1604) whose name is found on that of Essex and a manuscript of version of this map of Worcestershire. Various reasons can be deduced for the demise of the series. Woutneel disappears in 1603 when the last is heard of him, we know he was dead by 1608.

Woutneel was a Flemish refugee and bookseller living in St. Anne’s, Blackfriars, London. On 1 February 1580 he was admitted as a brother to the Stationers’ Company. This meant he had could operate under the Company but that there were restrictions on him including opening a shop. He had extensive dealings with Antwerp and the Plantin Press and corresponded with Abraham Ortelius in particular. He was almost certainly the financier of the intended county series of maps produced by William Smith and engraved by Hondius 1602-03. He travelled abroad extensively in 1582-3, 1587, 1591, 1592, 1596, & 1598. There were charges brought against him in 1600 for importing Popish books. Evidence shows though that he was a seller of books, not a publisher until 1601. The manuscript of Worcestershire bears his imprint and the date 1602 but interestingly the finished plate does not (Schilder VIII p. 165).

The maps bear no other names and were therefore known as being by the ‘Anonymous Mapmaker’. There similarity to the surviving Cheshire and Lancashire manuscripts had been noted but it was the chance discovery in 1958 of four drafts in Smith’s hand of Cheshire, Hertfordshire (1602), Warwickshire (1602) and Worcestershire which provided clear evidence of his authorship (BL Maps C.2.cc.2 [12-15]). It was published by Hans Woutneel whose imprint appears only on that of Essex, the map being derived from that of Christopher Saxton. It also displays a key to symbols. A great opportunity to acquire one of the rarest folio English county maps to ever have been published. One of just three known examples. The British Library acquired theirs in 1984 and one other is known in a private collection.

Provenance: private English Collection. Barber (2007) pp. 1634-5, 1650-1; Delano-Smith (2007) p. 534; Delano-Smith & Kain (1997) pp. 72 & 75; Globe (1985) no. 346 pp. 7, 98-101 & 221; Griffiths (1998) p. 39; ‘Imago Mundi’ 36 pp. 90 & 92; Schilder (2008) pp. 164-6, 293, 342 & 507; Sotheby’s 11 July 1986 lot 359 (Smith translation of Ortelius).
Stock number: 9887

SOLD

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