36 George Bickham 1750


In October 1743 George Bickham advertised The British Monarchy, a topographical work that would later include some forty-eight maps and 180 copperplate illustrations (including Edystone Lighthouse in the text on Devon). Very few complete copies have survived: two early copies are known with the added title-page Description of the several Counties of South Britain.

George Bickham (Senior) was a famous engraver and the descriptive text of the volume is written in his elegant calligraphy. He was an expert in this field writing various books on the subject including The Universal Penman, one of the finest English books on calligraphy. His son, also George, was equally a master engraver and was responsible for most of the birds-eye views. A third Bickham, John, was also an engraver and publisher. The British Monarchy was published in monthly parts from 1743, probably completed in 1749. This was a very beautifully produced volume consisting of descriptive text and historical notes illustrated originally with five rather sketchy maps probably by Bickham senior (The King of Great Britain’s Dominions in Europe, Africa and America; British Isles; Ireland; Scotland; and a Chart of the Sea Coasts).

Towards the end of 1749 the Bickhams reissued the work in two-weekly parts, this time including the county maps. The work was in two volumes, with the first advertised, bound (ie complete), in January 1751/2. Volume Two followed, completed probably in 1755. Three title pages are known with dates 1743, 1748 and 1749. The atlases vary in content, none contains every plate which should include the 42 views of the counties, North and South Wales and sea coast. This was reproduced in facsimile by Frank Graham (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) in 1967.

George Bickham died in 1771 and his stock was sold. A Laurie and Whittle reprint followed in 1796; they possibly acquired the plates when they bought Robert Sayer’s stock in 1794. A limited number of maps in an interim state are known: this was possibly a proof printing by Robert Sayer or Laurie & Whittle.


Size 222 x 138 mm.                                                                                                                                                           Scale is irrelevant.

A Map of DEVONSHIRE West from London Inscrib’d to the Earl of Orford - Lord Lieutenant &c. of ye County (CaOS) together with instruction to binder after page 43 (EaOS). Below map two lines of attractive calligraphy with mileages beginning with From Crookhorn to Axminster 13.2. The third line contains imprint: by G. Bickham according to Act 1750 .


1. 1750  The British Monarchy ... With Maps of each County in a New Taste, ... Publish’d according to Act of Parliament, Decembr. 2d. 1749, ...  CLXXVIII;
    London. G Bickham junr. 1749.        CLXXIX, H217, BL, W, B, BCL.
2. 1775  The title line has been erased. The plate was reduced (c.22 mm) removing the list below the map.  
    Loose sheet from unknown source.   (FB).
3.  1796 Title added DEVONSHIRE (CaOS) and added plate number 9 (EaOS).  
     A Curious Antique Collection of Birds-Eye Views Of The Several Counties in England & Wales  
    London. Robert Laurie and James Whittle. 1796. CLXXX, H218, BL, W, C, (DevA).