The Constable Map Collection
Kenneth Maxwell Constable, MA, was born in 1888 and died in 1937 at the early age of 49. He was educated at Charterhouse and Pembroke College, Oxford, where he read mathematics. He chose engineering as his profession and went to McGill University, Montreal, and then joined Messrs. Cammell Laird at Liverpool. In 1925 he came to Exeter to be the first Warden of Reed Hall; shortly after this he was appointed Warden of Mardon Hall. He also took up the post of Lecturer in Mathematics at the then University College of the South West. Among many interests listed in his obituary was the collecting of old maps: the 94 maps of the Constable Collection are the results of his efforts in this field.
The collection is believed to have been donated to the University College of the South West on Mr Constable's death in 1937.
Scope and Content
As with most antique map collections, the individual maps originally came from atlases, which were split up, often fairly soon after publication, and the maps sold separately. The complete atlases are comparative rarities: Exeter University Special Collections has as a prized possession Saxton's Atlas of England and Wales, published in 1579 (1st edition).
Most of the Constable maps (77 out of 94) cover the British Isles (general, regional, county). These include eighteen maps of Devon, twenty-nine maps of Wales and its counties, and, perhaps surprisingly, five maps of England's smallest county Rutland.
The famous names in early English cartography include Saxton, Speed, Norden, Ogilby, Morden, Blome, followed by Bowen, Kitchen, Donne and Cary in the 18th century. Maps by all these cartographers are present in either the Constable or the Townsend map collections, including two first edition Saxtons (Devon and South Wales) and one (probable) first edition Speed (Caernarvon). When in 1607 Camden's immensely popular Britannia was republished with county maps, these were based on the maps of Saxton, Norden and Owen. The Constable Collection has twenty-seven of the maps included in Camden's 1607 edition, and also contains one of the earliest maps of a part of Britain by a Briton: Wales, by Humphry Llwyd, which predates Saxton by six years.
On the Continent the two great cartographer/publisher firms in the seventeenth century were Blaeu and Jansson: their maps are also well-represented in the Constable and Townsend map collections.
The earliest map in the Constable Collection is an edition of Ptolemy's Hibernia et Albion, published between 1510 and 1530.
16th-19th centuries, with a particular strength in 17th century maps.
System of Arrangement
Constable Collection: arranged in four sections: general British Isles( 1-5); English counties (A-Z) (6-48); Wales and Welsh counties (49-77); non-British (78-94). The maps are stored in number order.
Usual EUL Special Collections arrangements apply.
It is not possible to photocopy items in this collection.
The collection is fully catalogued on the University Library's online catalogue and can be browsed by performing a 'local classmark' search.
There is a printed handlist in number order, available in the Special Collections Reading Room. Individual copies can be provided for a small charge to cover costs.
Most of the maps are in English, but several have Latin or other European language inscriptions.
Many of the maps are fragile and very large. They are all encased in transparent archival polyester folders.
Related Publications and Collections
See also the Townsend Map Collection.
The following reference books were most frequently used whilst cataloguing the collection: Thomas Chubb, The printed maps in the atlases of Great Britain and Ireland: a bibliography, 1579-1870 (London: Homeland Association, 1927); K.M. Constable, 'Early printed plans of Exeter, 1587-1724', Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 64 (1932): 455-473; C. Koeman, Atlantes Neerlandici: bibliography of terrestrial, maritime, and celestial atlases and pilot books, published in the Netherlands up to 1880 (Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1967), 4. vols.; Kit Batten and Francis Bennet: The printed maps of Devon: county maps 1575-1837 (Devon Books, 1996) (the maps described in this book are to be found in the Westcountry Studies Library in Exeter); R.A. Skelton, County atlases of the British Isles, 1570-1850: a bibliography, Vol.1: 1579-1703 (London: Carta Press, 1970). For additional information on Devon maps and map-makers see also Devon manuscripts and map-makers: manuscript maps before 1840 by Mary R. Ravenhill and Margery M. Rowe (Exeter: Devon and Cornwall Record Society, 2002).
British Isles -- Maps
Cartography -- England -- Devon -- History
Devon (England) - Maps -- History
Great Britain -- Maps