Copper engraving, 8 x 11 cm, map of Sicily engraved by Philip Galle, black and white, English text on the verso.
Two English printers dipped a toe in the vernacular atlas market at approximately the same time with pocket editions of the Ortelius atlas: ‘These two little books were the earliest world atlases to be published in England and the earliest world atlases with English text’ (R.A. Skelton, “Bibliographical Note” in Abraham Ortelius The Theatre of the Whole World. Amsterdam, 1968). Both are now extremely rare, and they use different series of maps: Shawe used the maps by Arsenius, Norton used the older series by Philip Galle.
Shawe’s epitome was certainly published before the death of Elizabeth I in March 1603; Norton’s is dedicated to Mr. Richard Gargrave, who was knighted by King James in 1603, so his atlas was published in early 1603 or before. It is generally dated to 1602, although the date 1601 has also been suggested. They were, in any case, published competitively within months of each other. Shawe published no further atlases, Norton published the full-size folio Ortelius ‘Theatrum’ in 1606. Koeman III, Ort 62.