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William Guthrie (1708 – 1770)

was an English geographer, mapmaker and publisher. Born at Brechin, Forfarshire as son of an Episcopal clergyman, he was educated at Aberdeen University with a view to becoming a parochial schoolmaster but he tried literature, became a political writer and was engaged on parliamentary debates in the „Gentleman‘s Magazine“. In the mid of the 18th century Guthrie got interested in history.  About 1764-7 he published, along with collaborators, „A General History of the World“ and in 1767 „A General History of Scotland“. His most noted book was his „Geographical, Historical, and Commercial Grammar“ (1770) which reached numerous editions.

Size: 23 x 18 cm
Image: Outline colour
Year: 1790

Map details

The title of this map is in an oval frame in the bottom right corner. The map shows Scandinavia, the Baltic, Poland, „Russia in Europe“, Prussia, the Faroe, Shetland and Orkney Islands and the eastern part of England and Scotland, with an inset of Iceland in the upper left corner titled: „Iceland Isle Drawn to the same scale“. Therefore it is astonishing that the Arctic Circle is marked in Scandinavia and Russia but not in Iceland. Underneath the small map of Iceland is a distance scale.

In the interior of Iceland some mountain ranges and only a few place-names are to be seen: the bishoprics Skalholt and Holar and „M Hekla“.

The map resembles Darton‘s map of 1802 but there are somes differences. That map is smaller in size, has no oval frame, the notice „from the best Authorities“ is omitted, the author is not named and there are more typographical mistakes (e.g. Skalholt is written „Skalkholt“)

Comments by the collector

It was not easy to identify the name of the author/publisher. I had bought the map which was allocated to J. Trusler at an auction of Auktionsverket in Stockholm.  Some time later the Map House in London offered another copy, identical in shape and size but as author William Guthrie was mentioned. As the name J. Trusler meant nothing to me I searched the internet and could not find a person with this name. The name Guthrie was familiar to me and therefore I agree with the opinion of the Map House experts that William Guthrie is the author of this map.