John Ogilby (1600-1676)

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John Ogilby (1600-1676)

John Ogilby (1600-1676) was one of the most colourful characters in the history of British map making. Born in Edinburgh, he started his working life as a dancer. This career was however cut short when he was injured during a performance. He later moved to Ireland where he established the first ever theatre in Dublin. Having made a considerable fortune out of this he then lost all of it due to the Irish Revolt of 1641 and a shipwreck. Undeterred, he eventually moved to London where he opened a book shop specialising in classical works. He once again amassed a considerable fortune only to see his shop burnt to the ground in the Great Fire of London of 1666. It was then, at the age of 66, that he turned to map making. Having produced maps of Africa, Asia and America, his greatest work, 'Britannia', appeared in 1675.This had the distinction of being the first ever road atlas of England & Wales. The 100 maps contained within were also the first to work by the principle of one inch to the mile and to use the Statute mile of 1760 yards (as opposed to the other mile measuements in existence)

Each road map depicts a route in the form of 6 or 7 vertical strips with a compass rose showing orientation; additionally, miles, furlongs, towns, churches, windmills, rivers, hills and even gallows are depicted. In total, about 7500 miles were surveyed for the production of the atlas. Britannia proved to be a major success; not only did Ogilby die a wealthy man but his maps were the basis of all road maps for the next 100 years and were incorporated into all county and British maps of the period.

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Welland Antique Maps & Prints, 44 West street, Bourne, Lincolnshire, PE10 9NX