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A fine example of Camden's Britannia in a contemporary binding

Britannia, sive florentissimorum regnorum Angliae, Scotiae, Hiberniae, et insularum adiacentium ex intima antiquitate chorographica descriptio.
CAMDEN, William
George Bishop,
Publication place
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  • Description

    Quarto, (330 by 230mm), engraved frontispiece, 57 engraved maps by William Kip and William Hole after John Norden, Christopher Saxton and George Owen, most double-page, 8 full-page woodcut illustrations of coins, other woodcut illustrations, ornaments and initials, ownership inscription of Ferdinandus Blümm inside upper pastedown, and "Robert Duighan, sept. 29 1856" on front free endpaper, contemporary vellum, coat-of-arms of George-Barthold Pontanus of Braitenburg to upper cover.

  • Notes

    A fine example of the first edition of William Camden's Britannia to be published with a set of county maps.

    William Camden (1551-1623) was an English antiquarian, topographer, and historian. He began work on his Britannia in 1577, after receiving a great deal of encouragement from many of the leading cartographers of the day, most notably Abraham Ortelius. The work would take him nine years, with the first edition appearing 1586. The work, published originally in Latin, is a county-by-county description of the British Isles, detailing the countries landscape, geography, antiquarianism, and history. It was to prove hugely popular with six editions being published in the first 20 years. During his lifetime Camden continued to revise and expand the text with each new edition. He drew upon unpublished text by the likes of William Lambarde, and travelled extensively throughout Britain collecting first hand information, even taking the time to learn Welsh and Old English.

    In 1607, the sixth edition of the Britannia was published, which included a set of 57 engraved maps. The maps, which bear no roads, were based upon surveys by the leading Elizabethan cartographers John Norden, Cristopher Saxton, and George Owen; and were engraved by William Kip and William Hole - who was also responsible for the striking frontispiece. The general maps of England, Scotland and Ireland were derived from the Mercator atlas of 1595. The maps would be reprinted in the English editions of the Britannia, 1610 and 1637.

  • Provenance

    George-Barthold (d. 1616) whose crest adorns the upper board, was a theologian and poet, was made Poet Laureate to Rudolf II in 1588, and later made canon and prevost of Prague cathedral; Ferdinandus Blümm (1768-1823), whose signature is on the front pastedown, was a German classical philologist; Robert Drugham (?), signature to the front free endpaper, bearing the date of Sept 29th 1856.

  • Bibliography

    Skelton 5.