Europe’s first road atlas from 17th century to be sold at auction
LONDON - The first road atlas of its kind in western Europe, a 17th century book showing a highway network in England and Wales of just 73 roads, is to be sold at an auction for up to £9,000.
According to a report in the Telegraph, the route atlas, published in 1675, includes 100 double pages of black and white maps laid out in continuous strips depicting the major roads and crossroads across England and Wales.
The work, by John Ogilby - Britannia Volume the First, or an Illustration of the Kingdom of England and Dominion of Wales - also marks the first time in England that an atlas was prepared on a uniform scale, at one inch to a mile. he 17th century map-maker claimed 26,600 miles of road was surveyed in the course of preparing the national road atlas, the first of its kind in any country in western Europe.
“What’s unusual about this book is that it is complete,” said Charles Ashton, an auctioneer at Cheffins Fine Art in Cambridge, where the atlas is expected to fetch up to £9,000 at an auction on October 29.
“A lot were published but over time many have been taken apart for their break-up value - in other words, the money that can be made by selling pages separately to be framed. It is very unusual for a first edition to have survived all these years in one piece,” he said.
“This is one of the original printing batch from 1675 and there are probably about 100 out there across the world - mostly in university and library collections,” he added.
According to Ashton, “From the outside it looks like nothing - the plain board cover is quite beaten up and unornamented, not elaborate at all. Looking at it from the outside, you would never guess how special this book is, but once you open it its full glory is revealed.”