John Bill’s Rare County Atlas

By CAMDEN, William and John BILL, 1626 

The Abridgment of Camden’s Britannia with the Maps of the severall Shires of England and Wales

British Isles
  • Author: CAMDEN, William and John BILL
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Printed by John Bill, Printer to the Kings most excellent Maiestie
  • Publication date: 1626.
  • Physical description: Oblong quarto (145 by 185mm), engraved title, to the reader, introduction, 4ff. text, map of England, 1f. text and 3ff. of tables, half title, and 51 engraved maps with text, some minor damp staining, loss to upper margin of a3 and a4, contemporary calf, gilt roll tool border, recornered, spine in six compartments.
  • Inventory reference: 2501

Notes

John Bill’s exceedingly rare county atlas.

The atlas was the work of John Bill (1576–1630) bookseller publisher, and printer to the King, who had worked together with John Norton on the publication of an English edition of Ortelius Theatrum in 1606. He was also known to have travelled extensively in Europe, often visiting the Frankfurt book fair. He also made several visits to Itlay in order to buy books for Sir Thomas Bodley, founder of the Bodleian Library.

The maps for the atlas were based upon those by Saxton, and are the first county maps to mark latitude and longitude. The prime meridian is taken from the Azores. On the verso of each map is printed the descriptive text of the county following, so that the text faces the map. This is the only edition and the maps themselves were never reprinted. Bill in the introduction gives a brief account of the science of geography, a description of England, and four tables giving details on the Spanish Armada, The last and most admirable [battle]”; notable dates in British history; the number of religious houses before the dissolution; and a list of English and Welsh counties. 

Bibliography

  1. Skelton 15
    • Skelton, R. (1978). County Atlases of the British Isles 1579–1850. Folkestone: Dawson.
  2. Chubb XLI.
    • Chubb, T., Skells, J. and Beharrell, H. (1977). The printed maps in the atlases of Great Britain and Ireland. Folkestone: Dawson.

Image gallery