Biographies of Some of the More Famous Cartographers
Undoubtedly, one of the most popular atlases of the early eighteenth century was that with maps engraved by Emanuel Bowen for John Owen’s "Britannia Depicta" - a pocket-sized atlas of county maps and strip road maps, based on John Ogilby’s famous road book of 1675, and first published in 1720. The maps are immensely detailed and finely engraved, and include, within decorated cartouches, information regarding market days, distances and such like pertaining to the county shown.
John Ogilby (1600-1676) had a variety of colourful careers (not invariably ending in disaster) before he embarked on a career as a surveyor and cartographer. "Tooley's Dictionary Of Mapmakers" suggests he was a dancing master, poet, translator, historian, printer, publisher, Royal Cosmographer (1671), Master of the King's Revels in Ireland, founder manager and director of Dublin's first theatre and surveyor to the City of London, amongst others.
However, Ogilby is perhaps best known for his series of road-maps entitled the “Britannia”, which was the first road-atlas of any country, published in 1675. The atlas was an immediate success, being reprinted many times and was much copied by other map-makers. The atlas illustrates the major roads emanating from London with some of the more important cross roads. Each of the hundred sheets covers a distance of about seventy miles, so some of the longer routes are on several sheets - for example London to Lands End is on four sheets. Each sheet is divided into strips representing parchment scrolls, with the map running continuously up the strips. Each map contains a wealth of information showing towns and villages, local landmarks, woods, bridges, castles and even gallows. Hills are shown diagrammatically to indicate the direction of the incline and their size. Furthermore, side roads and their destinations are also given all this at a constant scale, for the first time in any series, of one inch to one mile.
"Britannia" was intended to be one of a multi-volume, comprehensive atlas of England and Wales, but Ogilby had completed only three counties by the time of his death, delayed by the costs involved, and the difficulty of getting money promised by his patron Charles II. The three counties completed - Kent, Middlesex and Essex - are rare in their original issues. The plates of Middlesex and Essex passed to Philip Lea, and then to George Willdey, and examples with their imprints can be found.
Ogilby’s intention was to produce similarly detailed atlases of each of the continents, in conjunction with the Dutch publisher van Meurs. Although he did produce volumes of America and Africa, and sections on regions of Asia (particularly China and Japan), his death brought the project to an end. The maps in these foreign volumes, mostly from Dutch plates, are finely engraved and invariably have large decorative cartouches. "An Accurate Description And Complete History Of Africa" and the "Atlas Japannensis" appeared in 1670, and "America: Being The Latest And Most Accurate Description Of The New World ..." with 19 maps was published in 1671 - this was based on Arnold Montanus' " De Nieuwe En Onbekend Wereld".
Ogilby also produced "A New And Accurate Map Of The City Of London, Distinct From Westminster And Southwark ..." on 20 sheets in 1676 made with William Morgan. He also worked with Morgan on a map of Essex in 1678 and a smaller map of London.
The Family OTTENS
The Ottens family were among the most active, and prolific of the Dutch publishers working in Amsterdam, in the first half of the eighteenth century. The firm was established by Joachim Ottens (1663-1719), and continued by his wife, until his two sons, Reinier and Josua, were of age. They, in turn, were succeeded by Josua’s widow and son, also Reinier, who continued the business until about 1793. Despite the long span, the main period of the firm’s activity was between 1715 and 1750.
Following the death of their father, Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) and his sisters became map illuminators or colourists; and Ortelius also dabbled in buying and selling general antiques. From 1558 onwards, he is recorded as purchasing multiple copies of maps in order to colour them, but also began building up a large personal collection.
Ortelius was certainly the “man for the moment” whose interest in history and the classics translated itself into his maps of the ancient world and, through his draughtsmanship and cartographic skills, the production of his maps of the modern, emerging world. His life spanned a period of dramatic European history and the cultural enlightenment of the late Renaissance, while his friendship with the great Gerard Mercator, and other connections with like-minded geographers, historians and academics around Europe, provided the raw material for one of the landmarks of cartographic history.
From about 1560, possibly as a result of his friendship with Mercator, Ortelius began to produce maps - an eight sheet world map being the earliest. At this time, Ortelius also began preparing his greatest project, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Having already become probably the greatest cartographic bibliographer of the period, Ortelius was able to prepare 53 map sheets based on the most up-to-date information, which were engraved by Frans Hogenberg, and first published in 1570.
The atlas achieved instant fame as “the world’s first regularly produced atlas” (Skelton), being the first atlas with maps prepared to a uniform format. It was also an immediate commercial success, being reprinted four times in 1570. Between 1570 and 1641 (the publication of the last recognised edition of the Theatrum …) few competing volumes appeared and the atlas was able to expand from its original 53 maps to over 160. Over 30 different editions, with text in Latin, French, Dutch, German, Italian, English or Spanish, testify to the popularity and esteem attributed to the work. Marcel Van Den Broecke, whose fascinating work on Ortelius and his maps is often quoted, estimates that around 7300 complete atlases were published using a total of 234 copperplates, either replacements or reworkings as plates became out-dated, worn, or as new information became available. Amongst this latter category, the maps added in the 1580’s and 90’s of the world, the Americas, China, the Pacific, Japan, Peru and Florida, and Iceland are important historically and justly famous.The maps themselves are finely engraved, often very decorative and generally found with text on the reverse.
After Ortelius’ death in 1598 the atlas continued to be printed and published by the Plantin Press. Between 1602 and 1609 it was published by Johann Baptist Vrients, who added a variety of fine maps including the very decorative large plates of England and Wales, and of Ireland. Publication reverted to the Plantin Press, under the control of the Moretus brothers, from 1612.
Although only the relatively unsuccessful atlases of De Jode and, ultimately, Mercator were published during the sixteenth century life of the Theatrum …, in 1607 Jodocus Hondius’s issue of Mercator’s Atlas ... with many newly prepared maps began to supersede Ortelius’ work.
Samuel Augustus ODDY
Samuel Augustus Oddy was a publisher at No. 20 Warwick Lane in London. He is known to have worked with Henry Oddy from 1809-1810, although their relationship has not been established. In 1811 Oddy published "Oddy's New General Atlas of the World" with the maps engraved by James Wallis and in 1812 Oddy also published "Wallis's New British Atlas Containing A Complete Set Of County Maps". Later editions of this atlas appeared before the plates passed to G.Ellis c.1819.
Further information about many of these cartographers may be found in the volumes of Tooley's Dictionary - an invaluable addition to any map collection or single item.