A COLLECTION of more than 50 historic maps of Staffordshire that chart the county's evolution over a 300-year period is set to go under the hammer next Friday (June 6).
The maps - which were all part of a single, private collection - date from between 1577 and 1880; with the oldest an example of the very first printed map of Staffordshire.
In addition to being highly decorative, the maps provide a fascinating insight into what has changed – and indeed stayed the same – in the county over the past 437 years.
Cuttlestones' antique maps and books expert Rosie Blackburn said: "These maps are a delight for anyone with an interest in either local history or historic cartography.
"This collection is particularly interesting not only because it covers our local area, but that it includes an example of the first map ever to be printed of Staffordshire. Before this, maps were hand drawn and therefore extremely expensive to produce.
"The development of Copperplate printing in the late 1570s saw the popularity of maps - and books in general – explode, and many of these county maps were originally published in atlases.
"What I find especially interesting is looking for place names I recognise – many are still very similar with variations as spellings have become standardised – and also the county border. Staffordshire originally shared a border with Worcestershire, so the maps also include much of the area now thought of as the Black Country and Wolverhampton."
Highlights from the collection include a 1577 map of Staffordshire by Christopher Saxton. Carrying the original hand colouring it is expected to achieve in excess of £1,000.
Another very interesting lot is a map of Staffordshire from the 'Anonymous' series of just 12 county maps that are now attributed to William Smith (1550-1618), an antiquary and an office of the College of Arms.
These particularly beautiful maps were engraved in the Netherlands and printed in London.
The 12 copper plates were later acquired by Peter Stent who went on to die of the plague in 1665 and from whose estate they, along with various other plates, were purchased by print seller John Overton, who then went on to publish atlases and prints based on the 'anonymous' series. The Staffordshire example set to come under the hammer in this auction is a third state John Overton version dated 1670; nevertheless a fine example and very rare, so is expected to achieve in excess of £400.
The entire collection of 50 maps will come up for sale at Cuttlestones Auctioneers and Valuers in Penkridge.
For more information, call 01785 714905.