1843 (dated) 16 x 26 in (40.64 x 66.04 cm)
1 : 19495
A beautiful 1843 map of London, England, from the 1844 Chapman and Hall edition of Maps of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Updated from the original printing of 1835, this map covers central London from Buckingham Palace to the West India Dox. It extends south to the Oval and north as far as Kentish Town. The whole is finely engraved with most individual street microscopically labeled.
There at least five states of this map, this being the earliest according to Howgego. There is an earlier edition (Howgego 354), which is similar in size and scope, but bears two views present in upper right corner and is a separate engraving. The present example, from 1843, bears the Benjamin Rees Davies imprint.
The "Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge" was a Whiggish organization founded in 1828 at the instigation of idealistic British lord Henry Peter Brougham. The admirable goal of the Society was to distribute useful information via a series of publications to the English working and middle classes. It promoted self-education and the egalitarian sharing of all knowledge. While closely tied to the London University and publishing houses on the order of Baldwin and Cradock, Chapman and Hall, and Charles Knight, the Society failed to achieve its many lofty goals in finally closed its doors in 1848. Most likely the failure of the Society resulted from its publications being too expensive for its intended lower to middle class markets and yet not large and fine enough to appeal to the aristocratic market. Nonetheless, it did manage to publish several extraordinary atlases of impressive detail and sophistication. Their most prominent atlas consisted of some 200 separately issued maps initially published by Baldwin and Cradock and sold by subscription from 1829 to 1844. Afterwards, the Society combined the maps into a single world atlas published under the Chapman and Hall imprint. In its day, this atlas was unprecedented in its quality, scope, and cost effectiveness. Today Society, or S.D.U.K. as it is commonly known, maps are among the most impressive examples of mid-19th century English mass market cartographic publishing available. The S.D.U.K. is especially known for its beautiful and accurately detailed city plans.
Benjamin Rees Davies (1789 - December 16, 1872) was an engraver, cartographer, painter, and map publisher active in the early to mid-19th century. Davies was born in Holborn, England, apprenticed as under John Lodge in 1803. He began publishing around 1811 and is known to have compiled many of own maps from original survey work. From approximately 1848 onward Davies published in conjunction with the Stanford Firm. He is also known to have engraved a number of maps for the Dispatch Atlas and the S.D.U.K. Davies was an early adopter of steel plate engraving and used the exceptional hardness of steel to create some of the most delicately engraved and beautifully produced maps of his era. He was quite famous in England for his detailed street plans of London, which he began publishing in 1848. Davies is known to have worked with numerous other cartographers of his period including French, Mexican, and American map makers. Many of his maps and plans continued to be published and updated posthumously well into the 1880s.
Knight, C., Maps of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, (London) 1844.
Very good. Minor verso reinforcement along original centerfold.
Howgego, James L., Printed Maps of London circa 1553-1850, #843-1. Rumsey 0890.184.