300-year-old Britannia Depicta atlas found in Newcastle Oxfam shop

A300-year-old road atlas worth more than £2,300 has turned up in a charity shop.

Morgan Williams, shop manager at Oxfam in Hood Street has found a 1720 Britannia Depicta atlas
Morgan Williams, shop manager at Oxfam in Hood Street has found a 1720 Britannia Depicta atlas

A 300-year-old road atlas worth more than £2,300 has turned up in a charity shop.

Among the books and DVDs at Newcastle’s Hood Street Oxfam is a little piece of history.

Store manager Morgan Williams, 27, from Hexham said the atlas was by far the oldest and most valuable item to have been donated to the shop.

“The book is beautiful and incredibly well done,” he said. “And this copy is also incredibly well preserved.

“I believe the donor was a friend of a volunteer at the shop, a book collector having a clear-out.

“He was well aware this book was worth something and in a way that makes it an even more special donation.

“One of the things about Oxfam is that we have a reputation among book lovers for doing the research and putting the right price on something if they donate it. But a lot of second hand book dealers probably wouldn’t thank us for it as they can’t walk in and spend £1 on a book then sell it on for £100.

“We’ve had two independent book experts confirm it is original and that the binding and paper is contemporary.”

“Britannia Depicta” or “Ogilby Impov’d Being a Correct Coppy of Mr. Ogilby’s Actual Survey of all ye Direct & Principal Cross Roads in England and Wales: Wherein are exactly Delineated & Engraven, All ye Cities, Towns, Villages, Churches, Seats & scituate on or near the Roads with their respective Distances in Measured and Computed Miles” was published in 1720.

Between its brown leather covers, inlaid with gold leaf, it contains 273 unusual vertical maps of roads, with landmarks of the time drawn in alongside.

The map featuring “New Castle” begins at “Chester in the Street” in the south and runs north, with the map alongside it starting at the village of Gosforth and running north to Morpeth.

“I’ve never seen maps like it before,” said Mr Williams. “But the ‘bishoprick’ of Durham, Newcastle and Northumberland are all in there.

“When we did research we found copies that weren’t as nice, or which had been rebound, with prices starting at £1,500 and rising to £2,800 or even £3,000. We’re going to price this at £2,000 and see what happens.

“We’ll put it out in the shop first – in a locked case – as we want to let our customers have the first shot at buying it and encourage people to donate more.

“If it then doesn’t sell, and you do need a certain type of person who will want to buy it, then it will go to auction.”

For more information about the Hood Street Oxfam store visit http://on.fb.me/W9C7kM

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