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Maps of the British Isles

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Anglia II
Sebastian Munster. "Anglia II. Nova Tabula." From Sebastian Munster's edition of Geographia. Basel: Henric Petri, 1552. Fourth edition. Woodcut. Decorative woodblock on verso attributed to Hans Holbein. Shirley: 55.

In 1540, cartographer Sebastian Munster issued his version of Claudius Ptolemy's Geographia. This work contained maps of the different parts of the world as understood by Ptolemy, the librarian at Alexandria, Egypt ca. 150 A.D.. At the same time that he recognized Ptolemy's work by reissuing his maps directly, Munster also added a number of "modern" maps, reflecting the new knowledge gleaned of the world in the intervening fourteen centuries. These "new" maps issued by Munster reflect the most up-to-date information available in Europe, for Munster was a assiduous collector of geographic data at the various bookfairs in northern Europe and through his correspondence with other learned men of the time. This map of England is particularly good of its subject, containing around 80 named towns, rivers, and other topographical features, many of these shown for the first time on this map. As Rodney Shirley states, it was "substantially in advance of any others printed hitherto." (Early Printed Maps of the British Isles, p. 28) The map is "oriented," that is east is at the top, and it covers all of England, Wales, and parts of Scotland and Ireland. The source material for Munster's map is unknown, though it is thought that he had access to some form of the famous Gough map. There are few map available to the collector of equal interest and historic import. $1,400

William Smith. "Brightstovve, vulgo; quondam venta, floretissimum Angliae Emporium." [Bristol] Cologne: Georg Braun & Frans Hogenberg, [1588]. From Civitates Orbis Terrarum. Volume III. 13/ 1/4 x 17 1/8. Engraving. Original hand color. French text on verso.

A lovely bird's eye view of "Brightstowe" (Bristol) from Braun and Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum, one of the most important works from the early days of modern cartography and topographical illustration. Braun, the editor, and Hogenberg, the engraver, worked for over twenty years to produce their "towns of the world," the first systematic depiction of views of cities throughout the world. This work, issued in six volumes from 1572 to 1617, was a monumental piece of Renaissance learning and was designed to complement Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, the first modern atlas. These two atlases, both firsts of their type, were in response to a new interest in the nature of the world by the Western European population. This nascent interest was spurred both by the existence of a growing middle class and the relatively new general availability of printed books.

This fine view is an excellent example of the content of one of the greatest of these volumes. It provides a bird's eye view of this important western English city drawn by William Smith in 1568. It shows the town situated on both sides of the Avon River, graphically protected by embracing city walls, a castle and water. Some development, with houses and churches, is shown outside the city walls, along with farm land and representative sheep. The latter images reflect the fact that Bristol was an important city for the British wool trade. Three figures in Elizabethan dress are depicted on the left in the foreground. $950
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Speed: Channel Islands
John Speed. "Holy Island" and "Garnsey" and "Farne" and "Jarsey." From Theatre of the Empire of Great Britiaine. London: John Sudbury and George Humble, 1611. 14 3/4 x 20 (neat lines) plus margins. Engraving by Jodocus Hondius. Some chips from margins. Repaired tears in upper right corner and along left side. Stains in upper corners. Professionally conserved after having rough former wear. Ref.: The Counties of Great Britain by Alisdair Hawkyard, pp. 205-208.

Speed is best known for his important Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, which has been called the supreme achievement in British map-making. Speed spent over 15 years assembling the information for this atlas, which was first issued in 1611 by John Sudbury and George Humble. It is one of the most influential atlases of the British Isles ever published. The atlas contains maps of the entire British Isles, the individual nations, and separate maps for the counties. These maps were primarily based on the work of Christopher Saxton and John Norden, but Speed updated information where possible and he added new cartographic features such as town plans and indications of the hundreds, making his maps the most detailed and up-to-date of their time. Speed's maps are some of the most appealing cartographic images ever produced. He included intricate calligraphy, coats-of-arms, town plans, small profiles of important buildings, vignettes of battles, fancy compass roses, figures of local inhabitants, cherubs, and many other attractive features.

Once part of the realm of Normandy, fifteen miles off Cotentin, these islands were administered by the Tudor and Stuart kings. They retained their French laws and language and were never of great strategic importance for Great Britain. They did provide observation posts in many wars and had some economic products such as fishing. Greater detail is here provided for the two largest island, Guernsey and Jersey, with Sark, Herne and Iethou included on the Guernsey map. Typical of all Speed's maps these show buildings such as windmills and houses, and on Jersey the parish churches. A first edition of this map. $475

Huntington Shire
Joan Blaeu. "Huntingdonensis Comitatus, Huntington Shire." Amsterdam : J. Blaeu, [1645] 15 x 19 1/2. Engraving. Lovely, original hand color. Laid on board, otherwise very good condition.

The Blaeu cartographic firm of Amsterdam was started by Willem Blaeu at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The firm soon grew to become the largest and most important cartographic publishing firms in the world, run by his sons Cornelis (until his death in 1642) and Joan. The maps issued by the Blaeu firm are known for their fine engraving, coloring and design, and have been called "the highest expression of Dutch cartographic art." This beautiful map of Huntintonshire is typical of the work of the Blaeu's, with clear topographical information as well as profuse decorative elements. The basic cartographic information is derived from Speed's map, but presented with typical Blaeu elegance and decorative flourishes. $400
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Laurie and Whittle
"Scotland or North Britain." From A New and Elegant General Atlas. London: Laurie & Whittle, [1801]-1810. 9 7/8 x 8. Engraving. Original color. Some light stains in lower right. Otherwise, excellent condition.

In 1794, Robert Laurie and James Whittle took over Robert Sayer's important publishing business in London and continued to produce maps of the highest quality into the early nineteenth century. With access to the best geographic records and the finest craftsmen, the maps issued by Laurie & Whittle are among the best of the period. This map of the Scotland contains surprisingly good detail in a small format. Rivers, lakes, and many settlements are shown. Also of interest are the shires which are indicated with contrasting pastel shades. An interesting and most attractive map from the beginning of the nineteenth century. $225
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Thomas Ewing. "Scotland." From Ewing's New General Atlas. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, ca. 1830. 9 1/2 x 7 3/8. Engraving by J.& G. Menzies. Original hand color. Very good condition.

One of a group of rare maps from Thomas Ewing's New General Atlas. Ewing issued a number of editions of this fine quarto atlas in the first part of the nineteenth century, containing attractive maps of countries around the world. Published in Ediburgh, the maps were precisely engraved by J.& G. Menzies, who were noted engravers who worked for a number of publishers. The maps contain good detail and careful hatchuring to graphically represent topography. Hand coloring adds a nice flourish to these maps, which are good examples of British mapmaking at a time when it dominated the cartographic world. $125

Thomas Moule. "Dorsetshire." From The English Counties Delineated. London: George Virtue, 1837. Engraving with original hand color. 8 x 10. Trimmed slightly at left. Else, very good condition.

A map of Dorsetshire from probably the most attractive of the nineteenth century series of British county maps. Included are vignettes of scenes, buildings, coats-of-arms, and monuments reflecting more than just the topography of the county depicted. It is maps like these which make collecting British county maps so satisfying. $85
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James Gilbert. "Gilbert's New Map of England & Wales, drawn from the best authorities." London: Collins, 1849. 32 x 25 3/4. Separately issued, folding map: dissected into 24 sections and mounted on linen. Steel engraving. Original hand color. Slightly browned, but very good condition. Folding into original cloth case. Case rubbed.

A very detailed transportation map of England as the Industrial Revolution went into high gear. Roads, railroads, and steamship lines are shown in abundance. An unusual feature is a "Comparative Chart of the Navigation of the Principal Rivers" which shows the length to which one can pilot a boat. $375

Cruchley England
George F. Cruchley after John Cary. "Cruchley's (Late Cary's) Reduction of his Large Map of England and Wales, with part of Scotland; Showing all the Railways & Turnpike Roads With the Great Rivers and the Course of the different Navigable Canals: The Market and Borough Towns and principal places adjoining the Road . to which is added, The actual distance from one Market Town to another. With The exact admeasurement prefixed to each from the Metropolis." London: George F. Cruchley, ca. 1850. Separately issued map with original buckram cover (with original label). 30 x 24. Engraving. Original hand color. Some very light discoloration and separations at folds (expertly repaired), and two areas of light spotting. Overall, very attractive and good condition.

George Frederick Cruchley (1787-1880) was a London map publisher, seller, and globe maker. This map is one that he acquired from John Cary, issuing this updated version around the middle of the century. At this time, Great Britain was at the height of its Industrial Revolution. The rise of its industrial power created the huge demand for a transportation network to service these industries, leading first to the development of a wide web of canals and turnpikes. Then in the years leading up to the middle of the century, a huge railroad building boom transformed the transportation (as well as industrial and social) scene in Britain. The full title of this wonderful map shows that Cruchley tried to capture all this development on this map. This map is a reduced version of a larger map, issued on thin paper and folded into covers for use by travelers. The roads, canals, rivers, and railroads depicted would be of great use, as well as the information on the market towns and cities, as well as the distances between all these. Ferries from Britain to Europe and Ireland are also noted. Despite the plethora of detail, the information is very clearly presented, with crisp engraving and neat labels. The map is also very decorative, with each county highlighted in a contrasting pastel shade and the title cartouche attractively gracing the top right corner. As a cartographic statement of the state of England and Wales in the middle of the nineteenth century, this map is as good as it gets. $475
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"Tunison's Ireland." Jacksonville, Illinois: H.C. Tunison, 1885. Wax engraving. Original color. 12 1/2 x 9 3/4. Very good condition. Map of France on verso.

A handsome map of Ireland from Tunison's Peerless Universal Atlas. With the development of wax engraving (cerography), more maps and atlases were able to be produced in cities beyond the major centers of New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. Henry C. Tunison issued a series of fine atlases beginning in 1885 and lasting into the beginning of the twentieth century. This is a nice example of his output, showing Ireland with bright colors indicating the counties. $55


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