Author(s): Geoff Armitage
Between 1680 and 1807 British publishers produced a sequence of double-hemisphere world maps each printed on two sheets and conjoined. These maps are a peculiarly British phenomenon of this period and they provide a key indicator of the way the British map trade specifically targeted a newly prosperous and upwardly aspiring class of purchasers. The buyers were hungry for geographical information, but were also eager to acquire such maps for display, as a statement of their intellectual pursuits. The scientific appearance of the maps was more important as a selling point than standards of contemporary geographical accuracy, which few of them achieved. This is the first time that this type of map has been studied as a genre, partly because of their great rarity. The British Library holds the most comprehensive collection of these maps and studying them together has enabled the identification of broader themes. In particular, a greater understanding of the British map trade in the 18th century, its business practices, the economics of map-making and new techniques of marketing emerges.
Geoff Armitage has worked in the Maps Collection at the British Library for over 20 years. His previous books include The Shadow of the Moon: British Solar Eclipse Mapping in the Eighteenth Century (1997). Ashley Baynton-Williams is an antiquarian map dealer and researcher, and author of several other books including Maps of War (2007), New Worlds: Maps from the Age of Discovery (2006), Maps of North America (2008), and British Map Engravers: A dictionary of engravers, lithographers and their principal employers to 1850 (2011).