ORTELIUS, Abraham (1527-1598). Theatrum Orbis Terrarum... The Theatre of the Whole World. London: John Norton and John Bill, 1606.
2 parts in one volume, 2° (460 x 300mm). 2 hand-coloured engraved titles, arms of James I, epitaph, portrait, small globe on final verso, and 157 (of 161) hand-coloured double-page engraved maps, some heightened in gold, the 'Life' of Ortelius here bound after the dedication. (Without 4 maps, Koeman nos 19, 71, 152, 154; losses affecting image to title and dedication, some wear and marginal restorations to preliminary leaves and upper outer corners of first 10 maps, occasional minor spots or areas of abrasion, repaired tear along fold of map 157, repaired loss at edge of final verso.) Late 17th-century English panelled black goatskin, tooled in gilt and blind, both covers with triple border enclosing owner's name, cornerpieces incorporating acorn tools, further ornament with urns and flowerheads, 19th-century metal padlock and catch (rebacked, upper board detached, wear to spine and extremities, abrasions to upper cover). Provenance: Elizabeth Cairnes (d.1731; binding), wife of Sir Alexander Cairnes -- thence by descent, through her granddaughter, wife of the 1st Lord Rossmore, to the 7th Lord Rossmore.
THE RARE ENGLISH EDITION OF ORTELIUS'S THEATRUM, WITH A DISTINGUISHED PROVENANCE. Only four copies have appeared at auction in the last twenty-two years, only one of which was complete. With its 161 maps and further five engraved plates, the English Theatrum was 'the tallest volume printed in England up to that date... also the largest collection of intaglio prints in a single book yet published in England' (Skelton). The English version was based on the Latin edition of Ortelius's atlas, published by Vrients in 1603. According to Skelton and Van der Krogt, before sending the plates from Antwerp to England, the versos were erased, the English text then being printed at the Eliot's Court Press by Bradwood. The likely translator of the text from Latin into English is William Bedwell (1561-1632).
The present copy belonged to Elizabeth Cairnes, the wife of Sir Alexander Cairnes (d.1732), the 1st Baronet, a banker in Dublin and London, and Member of Parliament for County Monaghan (1707-27) and the borough of Monaghan (1727-32). Sister of Sir Nathanial Gould, Lady Cairnes was evidently a notable bibliophile; her bookplate was engraved by Louis du Guernier around 1715, and has been cited as an early example of allegorical bookplates. Koeman/Van der Krogt, III, 31:5.