Folio (17 4/8 x 12 inches). Letterpress index, double-page engraved plate showing coats of arms and a table of counties in full contemporary hand-colour, 35 double-page engraved maps (Yorkshire folding), after Saxton by Hogenberg, Lenaert Terwoot, Cornelis de Hooghe, Augustine Ryther, Francis Scatter, and Nicholas Reynolds, (lacking engraved frontispiece showing Queen Elizabeth, maps of Cornwall and Yorkshire replaced with maps from Philip Lea edition of Saxton ca.1689), extra-illustrated with 4 additional maps tipped in (see below), all but 3 maps in FINE FULL CONTEMPORARY HAND COLOUR (Cornwall and additional map of Buckingham plain, Yorkshire in contemporary outline colour) (some minor mostly marginal soiling, map of Norfolk browned, one or two early repairs to folds on verso). Contemporary limp vellum (stained, nearly detached, lacking two pairs of leather ties).
Provenance: Early annotations indicating ownership by the Stanley family, the Earls of Derby, and owners of Macclesfield Castle in the 16th-century; 19th-century North Library bookplate of the Earls of Macclesfield on the front paste-down dated 1860, discreet blind-stamp on first two pages.
First edition, with nine maps bearing Seckford's pre-1576 motto ("Pestis patriae pigricies"), and twenty-four his later motto ("Industria naturam ornate"), the index is in the fourth setting with a four-line heading and three columns, there are eighty-three coats of arms and one blank, and the general map, Northamptonshire and Norfolk are all in the second state. The paper bears the crossed-sword watermark.
The additional maps are:
Seller, J. Buckinamiae comitatus vulgo Buckingham Shire. London printed and sold by Thomas and John Bowles, 1733;
Boazio, B. [Irlandiae accurata descriptio.[London, 1599], left-hand sheet only;
Ortelius, A. Eryn. Hiberniae Britannicae insulae. [Antwerp, 1584];
Ortelius, A. Scotiae tabula. [Antwerp, c. 1582].
The index has been annotated in a late 16th-century hand to including the additional maps of Ireland and Scotland by Ortelius, the same hand has annotated the maps of Cheshire to show Macclesfield, the map of Lancaster to show Harrington Park (owned by ancestors of the Stanley family) and directions to points of interest from Hornby, the map of Westmorland with directions to Penrith.
Christopher Saxton, widely considered the father of British cartography, was the first mapmaker to comprehensively survey the counties of England and Wales. The map of the entire country was the earliest large-scale representation of England and the regional maps were, in many cases, the first for their respective areas. Published in a magnificent volume in 1579, his compilation was the first atlas devoted to the complete depiction of one country and formed the basis of English regional mapping for more than a century. Saxton grew up in Dunningly, Yorkshire and received his early training in surveying from the town vicar, John Rudd. Educated at Cambridge, Saxton's abilities caught the attention of Thomas Seckford, Royal Surveyor to the Queen. At this time, state officials were beginning to realize the political and administrative advantage of accurate maps, while public interest in cartography was in the midst of a dramatic surge. Largely in response to these factors, Queen Elizabeth charged Seckford with the task of procuring an atlas of England and Wales. An unprecedented standard of accuracy was achieved and in keeping with the Queen's intention that the atlas be a symbolic statement of national prominence, all care was taken to ensure that it was also beautifully produced. Each map bears the Royal Arms as a symbol of Queen Elizabeth's supervision and endorsement. Purchased at Sotheby's sale of the Macclesfield Library, March 15, 2007. Catalogued by Kate Hunter