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A Carto-Bibliography of the Maps in Eighteenth-Century British and American Geography Books
This study of eighteenth-century geography books published in the British Isles and United States began some years ago when I was an associate rare book librarian at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas. The Library had an extensive collection of 18th-century English books which included some editions of the Guthrie and Salmon geographies. In my naivete I began searching for a bibliography of such works as a cataloguing aid, as I was particularly interested in the maps they contained. When it finally dawned on me that none existed, the germ of the current project took hold. Someday, I would write it.
At that time I had no conception of the scope of the research, nor the time it would consume. It simply seemed to cry out to be done, and looked to be a straightforward task. I stored the idea away but took no action until some years later, when I was working as a reference librarian in the library of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. That library had no separate map collection and virtually no pre-1900 maps, a frustration for me. Casting about for a spare-time project which would keep me involved in the map world, the old idea surfaced. At about that time, in a lovely bit of serendipity, the Lilly Library of Indiana University, in Bloomington, offered one-week fellowships to Indiana librarians who could come up with a fitting project. I leapt at it, submitted a proposal, it was accepted, and I spent a fruitful week immersed in that wonderful library, setting the scope and devising a methodology. The project as outlined has varied little in the years since. As it now stands, it includes any book w ith maps (other than atlases, which have been well studied) concerned with the geography of the world or a major portion thereof (i.e. no geographies of single countries), published 1700-1800 in the British Isles or North America. The scope embraces geographies, gazetteers, geographical dictionaries, historical geographies, and larger works containing separate sections on geography. The journey from that week in the Lilly Library in 1977 to the present publication has been at times tedious and frustrating but mostly great fun. Since no bibliography of geographical works then existed1, let alone any guide to their maps, the first order of business was to compile a list of likely titles. In those distant, pre-Eighteenth Century Short Title Catalogue (now titled the English Short Title Catalog, ESTC) days, that meant slogging through the card catalogues of many libraries, finding clues in subject headings and keeping on the trail of known authors. The arrival of the ESTC has been the single most helpful event in the completion of the finished list, and without it I would undoubtedly have missed many appropriate entries. Even with its help I am sure I have missed some; I hope not many. It seemed quite miraculous to be able to sit at a terminal, search under the single term "geograph#", and see title after unknown title pop up on the screen. With the excellent ESTC collations, which led me to books with maps and allowed me to avoid those without any, and the good title transcriptions, my list expanded. And as more and more libraries added their holdings, elusive volumes were located. Ninety-nine percent of the titles in this bibliography can now be found on the ESTC, and when present the ESTC number is given for each entry, rather than noting the libraries in which I examined the item. The ESTC entry includes the symbols for all reporting libraries and usually gives the call number of the item at each institution. This last has saved me hours of work.
I decided at the outset that seeing only one copy of a book would not be sufficient. Some volumes had lists of maps to be included; some didn’t. Therefore it seemed important to examine several copies of a work to be sure that the corpus of maps was standard. As a result, I have tried to see at least three copies of every title/edition, and for the most part I was successful; I have examined more than 2,000 books. Even with the invaluable help of the ESTC it has not been possible to locate three copies of every title/edition. Some titles have been available in only two, or even one extant copy, and as a result my information for such items was limited. Some have not been located at all. Are they ghosts? Did an enterprising publisher bring out, for example, the 7th edition of a work, just to make it seem up-to-date, when no 6th edition had ever been issued? Or have the missing editions truly vanished? Gaps in the record are duly noted. Sadly, in every library I have found copies of a desired book which has had some or all of its maps removed. While many 18th century books are now in special collections, for too long many were on open shelves, making the books easy prey for thieves.
Except for a handful of quartos and small folios, which I think of as 18th century coffeetable books, most of the books in this carto-bibliography were octavos or even duodecimos, designed for students and those members of the increasingly literate public interested in geography and history but not wealthy enough to purchase the larger, more expensive geographies and atlases. Many of the books were quite literally worn out from use, or became out-of-date and were discarded. When they turn up in antiquarian book stores or dealer’s catalogues they are rarely in fine condition. Even those copies which have found their way to the sanctuary of a library are often worn and dog-eared. This evidence of use leads me to believe that, small and unimpressive as they were, these geographies nevertheless shaped the geographical world vision of countless readers in the British Isles and the United States.
Size alone, of course, is no indication of importance. A far better indication of that can be found in a look at the publication history of books of a geographical nature, which this study makes possible. In the first decade of the 18th century, eighteen books were published. By mid-century, the decade 1751-1760, the total had risen to 38. Numbers rose rapidly after that, culminating in 136 such titles 1791-1800, a nearly 500% jump, reflecting both an increase in interest in the subject as well as an increase in literacy. It is also instructive to examine the nature of the geographical books which were published, as reflecting the culture of the times. In this study of 470 titles/editions, three main areas of readership were identified. The earliest was for students of the classics, which in the 18th century were still the backbone of the educational curriculum. Six of the eighteen books published in the first decade were titles of this nature. New editions of such classical authors as Pomponius Mela and Dionysius Periegetes were published throughout the century, as were books titled, e.g. Geographia Classica, or Geographia Antiqua. Children were another major publishing target. Books with titles such as Geography Made Familiar and Easy, or Geography for Children went through as many as twenty editions. Other titles, as Geography for Youth, Youth’s General Introduction, or even The Young Gentleman and Lady’s Geography were meant to appeal to families with children out of the nursery but not yet in University. For the latter, the 20 editions of Patrick Gordon’s Geography Anatomiz’d, 23 editions of William Guthrie’s New Geographical . . .Grammar and 25 editions of Thomas Salmon’s similarly titled text sufficed. A practical business man might satisfy reference needs with one of the gazetteers, which published geographical information in alphabetical format. For the affluent, handsome quarto and folio volumes were furnished with large, fold-out maps, elegantly engraved.
The maps, of course, are the focus of this book, and examining them has led to some interesting speculation. Who controlled map plates? What was the trade in plates? Maps in Richard Turner’s View of the Earth . . . London 1762 [entry 390] were subsequently used in Daniel Fenning’s New and Easy Guide . . . London 1770 [entry 96]. Where were they in the intervening eight years - in the stocks of publisher Stanley Crowder? The maps in Robert Dodsley’s Preceptor, Dublin 1749 [entry 85] were used in the 1760 Dublin edition of R. Martin’s Geography methodised [entry 264]. They must have been stored somewhere in Dublin. The plates from John Seally’s Complete Geographical Dictionary, London 1783 [entry 380] were used in the very odd 1795 publication of William Guthrie’s Guthrie’s Universal Geography Improved [entry 187], with no apparent tie between publishers. Even more puzzling was the appearance in the Dublin 1771 edition of Guthrie’s New Geographical . . . Grammar [entry 177] of the plates from the 1754 London and final edition of Patrick Gordon’s Geography Anatomiz’d [entry 150]. Many maps in Irish books were close copies of those in the English editions, but these are from the original English plates. Were the plates obtained from England, or was it a pirated edition printed in England? And in what seems clear evidence of the value of map plates, a J. Rice, in Dublin, published an edition of Daniel Fenning’s New and easy guide to the use of the globes in 1796 [entry 102]. Rice apparently emigrated to the United States soon thereafter, as a “Rice and Co. Market-Street” published Du Fresnoy’s geography for youth in Philadelphia [1799? entry 246]. The same map of The World appeared in both the Dublin and Philadelphia books; Rice took it with him on the long sail west.
What is the purpose of this carto-bibliography? I see it as two-fold. I hope it will add to our knowledge of the work of English and American mapmakers. Many of the most important map makers of their time prepared the maps for these geographies, and that aspect of their work is little known. And as more and more 18th-century books disappear and others are disbound for their illustrations and maps, I would hope the book will help identify maps long detached from their moorings.
The four indexes should be among the most useful parts of the book. The geographic index shows the wide range of areas covered; the name index lists every cartographer/ engraver whose name appears on the face of a map; and the two publisher indexes list the name of every publisher connected with a book alphabetically as well as chronologically. This should be valuable for researchers of 18th century British publishing history. For much of the century multiple publishers/booksellers names appear in the imprint, but no catalogue contains, for example, the complete list of twenty-three names on the imprint of Richard Brookes’ General Gazetteer, London 1800. This bibliography does.
A work of this nature is the result of research in many libraries. As might be expected, the large national and institutional libraries held the most of my sought-for titles, and I spent many happy hours mining the riches of the Library of Congress and the several libraries at Yale and Harvard Universities. In England the British Library was the most fruitful for me. Often, however, libraries with smaller holdings of 18th-century geographical works turned out to have titles/editions not found elsewhere. All told, the course of my research led me to over 100 libraries in 20 states, 4 Canadian provinces, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales - and even, with e-mail, to libraries in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Most of these were visited in person, and I was met everywhere with courtesy and consideration. It is not possible here to acknowledge all those dedicated and helpful librarians who assisted in the work. They are legion, and I owe them a great debt.
I have already noted the help received from the grant given by the Lilly Library. I owe thanks also to a grant from the Special Libraries Association, which made it possible for me to visit a number of libraries, and to Yale University, which awarded me a summer’s research leave.
Despite all of the help I have received, there will be errors, for all of which I am solely responsible. Mea culpa.
A CARTO-BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE MAPS in EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY BRITISH AND AMERICAN GEOGRAPHY BOOKS >>
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