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The First Printed Map of Gloucestershire

Fine and rare Saxton map of Gloucester, in England's West Country, showing the county as it stood during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. This extremely decorative map, included in Saxton's important Atlas of the Counties of England and Wales, published in 1579, represents the first printed map of the region and a cornerstone of English printing and cartography.

The map is beautifully colored and masterfully engraved. It centers on the mouth of the Severn River, and extends southwards to Bristol, and also shows Dean, Newnham, Cirencester, Cheltenham, and Chepstow. Forests, hills, walled gardens, and more are all shown. This British decorative style would be later followed by John Speed, and its early development is here visible.

Bristol was one of the most important ports in England at the time of this map's creation, noted for its westward-facing harbor that could easily access the shores of Ireland, Iceland, and, importantly, the New World. In the 16th century, Bristol was a smuggling hub for goods coming in or out of the Spanish American colonies, but as England increased its own role in the Atlantic trade in the 17th and 18th centuries, Bristol's importance would only grow.

The title cartouche displays the royal coats of arms, and the lower of the two coats shows that of Thomas Seckford, Saxton's patron. Also included on the map is a scale bar, a sea monster, and several tall ships. This map was engraved by Augustin Ryther, the most talented of the engravers who worked with Saxton to produce his atlas.

Saxton's Atlas of England and Wales

Saxton's Atlas is considered the cornerstone of English cartography, and it set the standard cartographic representation of Great Britain and its counties, and was reproduced countless times domestically and abroad. The use of maps developed in the mid-16th century in England as Elizabethan government agents needed them to inform their decisions. Authorized by the queen's privy council, Lord Burghley selected Christopher Saxton to produce a survey of the country, which would be financed by Thomas Seckford.

The atlas contained thirty-five maps, including a general map of the country and individual county maps as well. Maps were all designed by Saxton, and engraved by Dutch or Flemish artisans that Saxton employed. Maps from Saxton's Atlas are very rare.

Condition Description
Fine original hand-color. Some evening toning.
First state.