Reduced version of Camden’s Britannia with maps by John Seller

By CAMDEN, William, 1701 

Camden’s Britannia Abridg’d; with Improvements and Continuations, to the Present Time…

British Isles
  • Author: CAMDEN, William
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Printed by J. B. for Joseph Wild, at the Elephant at Charing-Cross
  • Publication date: 1701.
  • Physical description: 2 vols. quarto (190 by 115mm), title, 61 engraved folding maps, fine original outline hand-colour, original tanned calf boards, rebacked.
  • Inventory reference: 2517

Notes

A fine example of the reduced version of Camden’s Britannia with maps by John Seller.

The reasons for this work’s publication are outlined in the preface: Gibson’s folio edition of the Britannia (published in 1695) being a very large Volume, and, upon account of its Maps and other Sculptures, unavoidably high in its price, it was thought it might be of Public Use, to Publish an Abridgment… To this purpose… we have Translated the admirable Epitome of Regner Vitellius”. This would be the edition published at Amsterdam in 1617. The maps themselves were first published by Seller in his Anglia Contracta’ of c.1694, and reprinted in The History of England, 1696. Seller is also mentioned in the preface: The maps are taken from the Plates of the late Ingenious Mr Seller, Hydrographer to King Charles II. Chose him to Survey the several Counties… ; after which Survey, these Plates where done by him with the greatest Care and Exactness“

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 book would take him nine years, with the first edition appearing in 1586. The work, published originally in Latin, is a county-by-county description of the British Isles, detailing the country’s 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 He drew upon unpublished text by the likes of William Lambarde, and travelled extensively throughout Britain collecting first hand information, even taking the time to learn Welsh and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. 

Bibliography

  1. Skelton 122.
    • Skelton, R. (1978). County Atlases of the British Isles 1579–1850. Folkestone: Dawson.

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