An original hand colored map, a copper plate engraving from Ogilby's "Britannia," published in 1675. The Britannia, a folio of 100 maps by the cosmographer John Ogilby (1600-1676), was the first road atlas and met with popular success since it allowed people to plan their journeys at a time when travel was arduous and sometimes uncertain - in 1675, 'two horsepower' meant precisely that, two horses.
The road from Dartmouth to Minhead, illustrated here, is plate 65 of 100 and shows the 71 mile route laid out in ribbon format and illustrated in wonderful and charming detail - each mile is marked off and divided with dots into eight furlongs. Drawn in one inch to one mile scale, it includes towns, mills, rivers, bridges, forests, churches, kilns, inns and other local points of interest and landmarks, as well as the topography of the hills showing the direction of incline one would encounter. The side roads (a day trip, perhaps) are also drawn to scale which was a another innovation that made the Britannia so useful to the traveler of the time.
Beautifully framed in a gold wooden frame under glass, this map is ready to hang. The mat was carefully chosen to match the tone of the old cream colored paper and has a red inner edge which echoes the red with which the roads of the map were highlighted, a thoughtful detail. You would pay many hundreds for such a treatment today in any good frame shop.
CONDITION is excellent antique. The hand coloring is still strong and the plate impression is crisp and clean inside the mat. There are two tiny holes just west of Silverton, and one slightly larger just south of Newton Bushel - along with a few other pin-prick size losses, not unexpected in a 340 year old document, and nothing that detracts from its handsome character. Please look at the photographs. Measures 25 ½” x 21 ⅛” overall, with a sight size inside the mat of 18 ⅛” x 13 ½”. Weighs 5 lbs. 12.5 oz.
It's hard to imagine in these days of GPS and Mapquest how important and valuable documents like this were in their day. It's nice to see an original survivor come down to us through the centuries. Enjoy!
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