Six sequentially numbered steel engraved celestial charts, each approx. 30 x 32 cm, and accompanied by title-page and leaf of explanatory text, designed by W Clarke after W Newton, and engraved by John & Charles Walker; original hand colour, blank verso.
Allegorical images of the various constellations drawn in outline; each star chart uses the Gnomonic Projection and includes all the stars up to the fifth magnitude – those that can be seen with the naked eye. The legend also identifies nebula.
The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was founded in 1826 with the high-minded aim of making ‘useful’ information available to self-taught members of the working and lower middle classes. Some of the material was decidedly abstruse, subscribers fell away and the Society was wound up in 1848; however, the series of 209 maps published over a 14 year period from 1829 onwards were highly praised for their superior quality, accuracy and aesthetic appeal and remain an outstanding achievement.