Sign In

- Or use -
Forgot Password Create Account
This item has been sold, but you can enter your email address to be notified if another example becomes available.

Scarce large-format folding map of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), published during the Regency Era by William Faden, with the surveying work done by George Atkinson.

The map is readily recognizable for its large cartouche in the upper-right corner featuring an elephant with a mahout, amidst the landscape of Sri Lanka and other local flora and fauna.

The mapmaker, George Atkinson, was the second Surveyor General of Ceylon, having succeeded the first, J. Johnwil, in 1805, and leaving the office in 1811.

The inscription is dated Colombo [Sri Lanka], March 15th 1811. The bears an engraved imprint line: "London: Published by W. Faden Geographer To His Majesty & H.R.H the Prince Regent. No. 5 Charing Cross. August 12th 1813."

H. Cooper signed the plate as the engraver.


We locate one copy at auction in 2009. OCLC locates three examples (Harvard University Library, Cambridge University, and National Library of Scotland). To this, we can add National Archives at Kew.

Condition Description
Dissected and mounted on original linen with silk selvage. Original green cloth case bearing the onlaid crest of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet.
William Faden Biography

William Faden (1749-1836) was the most prominent London mapmaker and publisher of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. His father, William Mackfaden, was a printer who dropped the first part of his last name due to the Jacobite rising of 1745. 

Apprenticed to an engraver in the Clothworkers' Company, he was made free of the Company in August of 1771. He entered into a partnership with the family of Thomas Jeffreys, a prolific and well-respected mapmaker who had recently died in 1771. This partnership lasted until 1776. 

Also in 1776, Faden joined the Society of Civil Engineers, which later changed its name to the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers. The Smeatonians operated as an elite, yet practical, dining club and his membership led Faden to several engineering publications, including canal plans and plans of other new engineering projects.

Faden's star rose during the American Revolution, when he produced popular maps and atlases focused on the American colonies and the battles that raged within them. In 1783, just as the war ended, Faden inherited his father's estate, allowing him to fully control his business and expand it; in the same year he gained the title "Geographer in Ordinary to his Majesty."

Faden also commanded a large stock of British county maps, which made him attractive as a partner to the Ordnance Survey; he published the first Ordnance map in 1801, a map of Kent. The Admiralty also admired his work and acquired some of his plates which were re-issued as official naval charts.

Faden was renowned for his ingenuity as well as his business acumen. In 1796 he was awarded a gold medal by the Society of Arts. With his brother-in-law, the astronomer and painter John Russell, he created the first extant lunar globe.

After retiring in 1823 the lucrative business passed to James Wyld, a former apprentice. He died in Shepperton in 1826, leaving a large estate.