Blome’s Britannia in contemporary full red morocco

By BLOME, Richard, 1673 

Britannia or a Geographical Description of the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland with the Isles and territories thereto belonging. And for the better perfecting the said Work, there is added an Alphabetical Table of the Names, Titles, and Seats of the Nobility and Gentry that each County of England and Wales is, or lately was, enobled with. Illustrated with a Map of each County of England, besides several General ones. The like never before Published.

World
  • Author: BLOME, Richard
  • Publication place: London:
  • Publisher: (Thomas Roycroft for Richard Blome)
  • Publication date: 1673.
  • Physical description: Folio (362 by 293 mm), first edition, two parts in one volume, title printed in red and black within double ruled border, dedication leaf, Preface to the Reader, Table of the Benefactors and Promoters of the work… 24 engraved leaves showing 807 coats-of-arms, folding, engraved map of the whole of the British Isles, 49 double-page engraved county maps, single-page plan of London and four general maps of the British Isles, all finely coloured, including the armorials, by a contemporary hand, full contemporary red morocco, extensive gilt decoration, title in gilt with red label, large paper copy.
  • Inventory reference: 2111

Notes

An outstanding example of Blome’s Britannia’ in a splendid binding of red morocco. The maps include all the English counties, general maps of England and Wales, North and South Wales, Scotland, Ireland, plus maps of the British Islands and a plan of London. The general maps are usually folded but the generous width of this copy avoids this. The publishing of the Britannia’ was achieved through the selling of subscriptions, thus any person who pays 20s. shall have one of the said books presented to them with their coat-of-arms affixed to the Mapp of the county to which they are related unto”. The Britannia’ was one of the major English cartographical works of the second half of the seventeenth century, but its publication was not well received; Blome was accused of plagiarism by many critics, one of whom, the Bishop of Carlisle, William Nicholson, described it as a most entire piece of theft out of Camden and Speed”. There was, in fact, some truth in this, but the atlas had little competition in the second half of the century and it should be appreciated as a well-produced piece of cartography, though lacking in originality.

The large thick paper, original colour, and rich contemporary binding all contribute to produce an outstanding example of Blome’s major work. 

Bibliography

  1. Chubb 99
    • Chubb, T., Skells, J. and Beharrell, H. (1977). The printed maps in the atlases of Great Britain and Ireland. Folkestone: Dawson.
  2. Skelton 90.
    • Skelton, R. (1978). County Atlases of the British Isles 1579–1850. Folkestone: Dawson.

Image gallery