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Date: 1577 (1579)
First Edition. Long title: Monumethensis Comitatus Regis Henrici Quinti Natalithiis Celeberrimus Ano. Dni. 1577 'alluding to the County's greatest fame as birth-place at Monmouth in 1387 of Henry V, is engraved top left in an architectural panel with a female and a male figure, perhaps Eve and Adam, to the left and the right standing on small globes. Clusters of fruit hang from either end of the entablature which they appear to support. The panel is surmounted by the royal arms of Queen Elizabeth I having a rampant lion and dragon.Lower, to the left, are the arms of Thomas Seckford, Saxton's financial backer, beneath a scroll with the motto Industria Naturam Ornat, Industry improves Nature. Bottom left, the scala miliarum, the scale of miles, is surmounted by a air of dividers. Two sailing ships to the right of the centre fold decorate the stippled Bristol Channel, here titled Sabrina flu., the river Severn. There are two types of lettering: larger capitals for towns, script for other locations. Hills are conically reprensented in profile; parks are fenced; trees and towers conventionally drawn houses represent woodland and buildings respectively. Bridges, but not roads are marked . North, East, South and West are indicated in the ornamental border by their Latin names'. The Mapping of Monmouthshire. D.P.M. Michael. p 33. Bunch of grapes watermark considered to signify an EARLY IMPRESSION of this first edition (see Chubb p3). The earliest map of the County from Saxton’s original survey engraved by one of a London based team of engravers. The date 1577 on the map reinforces other evidence that many of Saxton’s 34 county map of England and Wales were already drawn and separately available for sale well before the appearance of the collected edition in 1579.(D.P.M. Michael) Copper engraving with original hand colouring. Overall sheet size: 55.3cms x 42.6cms; image size : 479mm x 392mm. Two worm trails each 6 mm either side of centrefold, a little cracking at centrefold; two invisibly strengthened edge tears on verso and one hairline split strengthened on verso diagonally across bottom right corner. Remnant of tape from previous framing at top of centrefold on verso, back browned and some fraying top margin but much nicer than this sounds and a rare map in good original condition despite its flaws.
Christopher Saxton was born in Yorkshire in the early 1540s and during his early life gained an enthusiasm for and understanding of map-making under the direction of a local vicar John Rudd, himself a cartographer.
During the reign of Elizabeth I it was William Cecil later to become Lord Burghley, who saw the national importance of effective maps to assist the administration and defence of the realm and with his enthusiasm and the patronage of Thomas Seckford an official in the Elizabethan court, Saxton was commissioned to survey the whole of England and Wales. A huge undertaking given the times and the means available to him. The survey began in the early 1570s and by 1574 the first plates had been engraved., the maps as issued being dated from 1574 to 1579. The complete collection of 34 maps first published as an atlas in 1579 but the maps were sold separately beforehand.
In the end the atlas comprised of a general map of England and Wales and 34 others of either individual or grouped counties. They were engraved by some of the best engravers of the time and when published they set a standard both in accuracy and decorative detail to the extent that they remained the basis for succeeding county maps for well over the following hundred years. They provide the earliest detailed picture of England and Wales and are a remarkable achievement.