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An Elizabethan Cartographic Landmark
The First English Map of England
The Very Rare First State in Full Original Color

England. SAXTON, Christopher [London, 1579]
Anglia, hominu numero, rerumque sere omniu copijs abundans, sub mit=tissimo Elizabethae, serenissimae et doctrissimae Reginae,…. 15 x 19 inches
Full original color; mends & soiling largely to outer margins, a few minor reinforcements within surface, overall very good.


Not only was this map "a significant advance on all previous efforts" (Shirley) in the mapping of England, it along with the other maps in Saxton's atlas signaled the coming of age of English map making. Based on fresh surveys conducted by Saxton himself between 1570 and 1578, the map's basic outline would be adopted by virtually all the giants of mapmaking in subsequent years, including Speed, Ortelius, Blaeu, Jansson and Mercator, and for nearly 200 years hence. Moreover, the map's animated visual style evokes the vitality of the age of Elizabeth I and Shakespeare within which it was published. Some 50 ships and sea monsters roam the seas on the map, and the Elizabethan arms surmounts its elaborate title cartouche. The map's coloring, entirely of the period, retains a bright vibrancy.

The map was produced under the patronage of Thomas Seckford, a Master of Requests to Elizabeth I, who had commissioned Saxton’s atlas of county maps, a project overseen by Lord Burghley, Secretary of State, whose administration increasingly involved the use of maps. Seckford's arms appear at lower right. Saxton’s name and the map's date appear in the decorative scale bar at left, as does the name of the engraver of this map, Augustine Ryther, the most accomplished of seven English and Flemish engravers employed to produced the copperplates for the atlas.
Only a few examples of either this first or the second state of the map have appeared on the market in the last 30 years. Later issues by Philip Lea have been less scarce. This first state can be distinguished by the absence of latitude and longitude graduations along the inner borders.

Shirley, R. Early Printed Maps of the British Isles, no. 128.

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