Catalog Archive
Auction 173, Lot 457

Blair's Spectacular History of the World

"The Chronology and History of the World, from the Creation to the Year of Christ, 1779...", Blair, Rev. John

Subject: Atlases

Period: 1779 (published)


Color: Black & White

12.8 x 18.1 inches
32.5 x 46 cm
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This attractive example of Blair's work covers world history up to the date of publication through use of 16 double page maps and numerous chronological table plates, all double page. The title page is beautifully engraved with scroll titling and dated MDCCLXXIX. Next is an elaborate engraved dedication page to "Augusta Princess Dowager of Wales" with a large Royal Coat of Arms. There is an eight page preface, a twenty page chapter on the evolving study of geography, and indices covering notable figures and "remarkable events" both before and after the birth of Christ. All fourteen listed maps (7 ancient and 7 contemporary) appear, including A Map of North America from the Latest Surveys and Maps, which focuses on the American colonies as they were in 1768. The original maps were engraved by Thomas Kitchin. Two maps have been added to this edition: a large hemispheric world map, dated 1779 and engraved by J. Bayly, and a map of the Indian subcontinent, dated 1773. All the maps are very detailed and finely engraved, printed on high quality paper with large watermarks.

Many of the maps are spectacular, but the superb map of the British Colonies (A Map of North America from the Latest Surveys and Maps) rates separate comment. The map shows the Atlantic seaboard west beyond the Mississippi River during the transitional period leading up to the American Revolution. The map shows much of the region controlled by the British after the French and Indian War. Several of the colonial charters show their boundaries extending off the map to an indeterminate western boundary. The charter and dates are noted along the colonial boundaries, which extend through Louisiana, a Spanish possession at the time this map was made. Another conflicting boundary is New Mexico's eastern line, which travels north along the R. Mexicano (Sabine River) before turning northwest where it intersects with North Carolina's southern border. Texas is shown in the larger New Mexico region as Cenis. Finely engraved by Thomas Kitchin, the map shows a good amount of detail regarding topography and watershed, Indian lands, settlements, fishing banks, and more.

Hardbound in full original leather with gilt border on spine.

References: Shirley (BL Atlases) G.BLAI-1b.

Condition: A

Condition code is for the maps, which are all fine impressions with occasional minor spots and faint toning; two of the maps, of Greece and India, are slightly more toned. Text and tables are lightly toned, mostly along the centerfolds and margins, with occasional spots of soiling. Covers are detached, with the title and dedication pages still attached to the front cover. The covers and spine are heavily worn with a number of chips and abrasions to the leather ("C" condition). Given the internal quality, this example would benefit from professional rebinding.

Estimate: $1,700 - $2,000

Sold for: $1,000

Closed on 6/5/2019