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Near flawless example of Prince Frederik, Duke of York's copy of George Willdey's extremely rare edition of Philip Lea's rare map of the British Colonies (Jamaica, Port Royal, Florida, Caribbean and The English Empire in America). The map was part of a collection which was sold in 1827 by Sothebys.

As noted by Burden, the map was first advertised in the Term Catalogues for Trinity Term 1685, published in June 1685. It is not referred to in Lea's1685 catalogue, but appears in the catalogue of 1687. The map is divided into three parts, the lower part being a detailed map of the island of Jamaica, naming all the plantation owners. It bears an inset lower left entitled A New Draught of Port Royal by Anthony Williams. The upper part of the map shows the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern portion of North America. A large B. Sp of Santo represents the mouth of the Mississippi River, Florida includes a similarly named river on the west coast, and S Augustine on the eastern shore.

The final two maps extend to the Carolinas, with the ports of Charles Towne and Port Royall noted. A large inset map in the upper right is entitled The English Empire and extends the coverage of the map northwards through New England, centered on the Chespeake. This map provides an accurate depiction of the British Colonies along the Eastern Coast of North America as it stood in the mid 1680s. The new colony of Pennsylvania is shown, as is the capital city, misspelled Philidolphia.

The four vessels plying the waters offshore indicate the level of trading activity. There was one unusual publication from this plate. In 1694 Thornton, Morden and Lea collaborated on the extremely rare Hydrographia Gallia, a small book of pocket maps of the coasts of France. Lea followed this on his own with the Hydrographia Universalis, c.1696. This was a little work of the harbors and coasts of the world although with a strong emphasis on England and France. Lea masked this plate to print the little inset of the English Empire and include it in the work. Only four examples have been located: British Library, National Maritime Museum and two at the Library of Congress.

Philip Lea published a second very similar map of Jamaica most probably in the late 1690s, where the upper section of the map is replaced with images of the West Indies. Old centerfold split has been repaired on the verso, with minor remnants of soiling along the centerfold. Centerfold reinforced on verso. A few marginal tears, just reaching the printed image, but in all a very attractive example of this extremely rare and imporant map. Not in Cumming or McCorckle. There are only 4 known copies of the complete Philip Lea Atlas.

The present example includes the bookplate of the Duke of York. The map was apparently acquired by the Duke of York and bound into a large composite atlas, as noted by the number below the Duke of York's Bookplate found on the upper left verso of the map (illustrated), bearing the motto of the Chivalric English Order of the Garter, "Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense" and the initials D.Y., along with "Vol. 62, No. 14." The map therefore reveals a both a remarkable provenance and provides a glimpse into the often asked question of how separately issued maps manage to survive in such fine condition when they were not originally bound into an atlas or book.

The Wildey edition of Lea's map was unrecorded until 1986, when an example was located in a copy of a Willdey Atlas was sold at Sothebys and only a few examples have since been located.The Lea Map has appeared in dealer catalogues only 2 times in the past 25 years (Arkway Catalog 58 (2004) $6,500 and Shapero, Pilots of the Caribbean (2007) $9000) . Only 1 example of the Wildey edition has appeared in the past 25 years (1987--Arkway Catalog, $1900).

It should be noted that while Philip Burden listes the map as issued by Willdey circa 1715, Ashley Baynton-Williams has provided compelling evidence that this conclusion is in correct. Mr. Baynton-Williams notes that the sale of Anne Lea's stock (widow of Philip) was announced in 'Daily Journal' of August 5th 1730, as to be held on the 14th. Willdey first advertised his re-issuance of the Lea maps in an advertisement in the 'Daily Post' for February 3rd 1732.

Mr. Baynton Williams adds to the intrigue of this map, noting that Prince Ernest Augustus of the House of Hanover (born in Osnabruk in 1674) was the Duke of York from 1716 to 1728. The next Duke of York, Prince Edward of the House of Hanover (born in Norfolk House in 1739) was the Duke of York from 1760 to 1767. The most logical explanation is that the book was bound up in the life time of Prince Edward, from maps in the possession of his family or acquired prior to his becoming Duke of York.

The Duke of York as a Prolific Map Collector

Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany, (1763-1827), was the second son of King George III, and much like his father, a prolific collector of books and maps. A grand library was a necessity for a gentleman of his standing in Georgian Britain, regardless of his occupation, but as a lifelong military man (eventually Commander-in-Chief of the Forces), it was especially important for the Duke of York.

The Duke collected maps, prints, and books throughout his life. In the 1790s, he commissioned the printseller Holland to gather rare 18th-century satirical prints into a series of albums for him. That collection grew to encompass four albums and several hundred prints. His book collection was larger by several orders of magnitude; when it was finally sold after his death in 1827, it took 22 days (starting on May 7, 1827) for Sotheby's to sell the 5548 lots of books from his library.  As the Duke of York was not directly in line for the Crown, his collection did not become part of the Royal Collection.

At the end of the 200-page Sotheby's book sale catalog was an advertisement for the sale of the Duke's over-800-lot map collection:


The most extensive and invaluable Selection of MAPS and CHARTS, the Property of HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUKE OF YORK, DECEASED.

Including a Grand Classical Arrangement of "Chartae Geographicae"; or a Collection of Maps and Charts in reference to Ancient and Modern Geography, contained in Eighty-Six [actually Eighty-Eight] Atlas Book-Boxes, 2 feet high by 16 inches wide, uniformly bound and lettered with the Contents.

The Duke of York's Chartae Geographicae Map Collection

The map collection was of vital professional interest to the Duke, as well as an obvious focus of his collecting passion. And the crowning jewel of the map collection was the 88-volume boxed set of maps, each bearing the Duke of York's bookplate (with his coat of arms and "DY") as well as the volume number and map number.

In Harley and Walters' article on early English map collecting, they identified the Duke's boxed-map collection as being the most important from the period:

This item, lot No. 238, was in itself a veritable map library of world-wide proportion. It was cited in the catalogue as 'Chartae Geographicae antiquae et recentiores-Collection-in reference to antient and modern geography, consisting of 5,500 maps, engraved by the early modern geographers, contained in 88 folio Double Book Cases, and properly lettered'. It was sold for £400 to Cochran.

Select maps from the Duke of York's collection have appeared on the market in the last few decades, though we have not been able to trace the actual volumes beyond their sale to Cochran (almost certainly the London bookseller John Cochran) in 1827.

Condition Description
Bookplate of Prince Frederik, The Duke of York on verso (illustrated)
Burden II 608; Pritchard & Taliaferro p.371; Kapp, K.S. (Jamaica) #31; Phillips, P.L. (Atlases) 4271-27.
George Willdey Biography

George Willdey was an optical instrument maker. He also sold globes, maps, and toys at his shop in Ludgate Street. Born in Staffordshire, Willdey moved to London after the death of his father, where he was bound as an apprentice to John Yarwell, an optician. He was made free of the Spectaclemakers’ Company in 1702, when he began work as a journeyman.

A few years later, Willdey started in business with Timothy Brandreth, working under the sign of the Archimedes and Globe. They competed for business with Yarwell and other opticians, advertising their wares in trade cards and periodical advertisements.

Willdey and his wife, Judith, had five children, three of which survived to adulthood. Judith was a Huguenot, which allowed Willdey to create a wider network of artisans and craftsman. He expanded his stock to toys and household decorations, in addition to instruments. From 1709 he also sold printed goods, including maps and globes, which he sold in partnership with John Senex. Willdey purchased the copper plates for many maps, such as Christopher Saxton’s atlas of England and Wales.

In 1771, Willdey split with Brandreth and expanded his stock further to include coffee and tea, snuff, medicine, china, and cutlery. He sold these wares from his shop at Ludgate and St. Paul’s Churchyard. He aggressively advertised his business in hundreds of newspaper advertisements; he also adopted many advertising gimmicks, such as erecting a giant burning glass on the roof of his store. Willdey was a leader in the Spectaclemakers’ Company. His wife frequently helped with the business and eight of his fifteen apprentices were women, which was very unusual for either the instrument and toy trades at the time.

Willdey died in 1737, although he had been in declining health for years and had tried to pass the business to his son, Thomas. He was remembered in The Old Whig, or, the Consistent Protestant as the “most noted Toyman in Europe.” After his death, the shop was run by Judith along with a former apprentice, Susanna Passavant. Thomas, it seems, was not suited to business. Willdey’s daughter, Jane Frances, married a Peter Fenoulhet, clerk of the entries in the Excise Office. Fenoulhet sued on behalf of their son over the mismanagement of the family business by Thomas. These lawsuits produced eleven inventories of household and commercial stock between 1730 and 1737, the only extant shop accounts from the London instrument trade from this period.