The Hall-mark of modern map-making
Sidney Hall was almost certainly the first to use the new hardened steel printing plates for map work, mostly for small format educational works such as ‘A Grammar of General Geography’ (1821) and ‘Butler’s Atlas of Ancient Geography’ (1822). Engraving on steel allowed for particularly fine detail, for example in shading and hachuring.
Sidney Hall died in 1831 but the business – and work on this atlas – was completed by his wife Selina, who was also an accomplished engraver. Sidney Hall generally abbreviated his name to ‘Sdy Hall’, while Selina signed ‘S Hall’ (e.g. on the maps of Norfolk and Rutland). The early railways are prominent – coloured red – and were revised and updated between editions (including proposed lines which were not always built). The atlas was widely advertised in the press (e.g. Illustrated London News, August 22 1844), often quoting from a favourable notice in the Westminster Review: ‘the best atlas we have seen for neatness, portability and clear engraving… exactly the size, without being too bulky, for the pocket on an overcoat’.
Condition & Materials
First edition of this pocket county atlas (21 cm tall). Title page, index leaf + 46 steel engraved maps with original hand colour in outline, all but four of which are double-page; Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Yorkshire are on two folded sheets. Some paper repairs to the folds of the larger maps, occasional spotting, adhesion damage, short splits and other signs of use. Original green publisher’s roan wallet style binding with a tuck, neat restoration to joints, title lettered direct in gilt on the cover.