NORDEN, John The surveiors dialogue very profitable for all men to peruse, but especially for all gentlemen, or any other farmar, or husbandman…

London, Printed by I. W[indet] for I. Busby, Fleetstreet, 1610


4to. pp. [xvi], 103, 106-144, 153-184, 145-152, 155-218, 119-120, [ii]. First blank but for signature-mark “A”. “Quires M and N are unsold sheets from the 1607 edition.” here bound out of order but complete. Roman letter, some Black and Italic. Large woodcut initials, head and tail-pieces, tables and diagrams. Paper stubbs and rear pastedown (unstuck), waste from a large bible leaf, Psalm 104. Very light age yellowing, very rare mark or spot, cut a little close at upper margin trimming a few running headlines. A fine copy, fresh and clean in remarkably preserved contemporary English calf, covers bordered with a triple blind rule, spine triple blind ruled in compartments, edges gilt scrolled, a.e.r.

A very good copy of the second edition of the first English book on surveying of the seventeenth century. There were three editions between 1607 and 1618. The Surveiors dialogue, draws on Norden’s experience as surveyor of the Duchy of Cornwall, as well as of the royal castles and crown woods in various counties. “Important because of Norden’s clear account of the operation of the court of survey and because of his efforts to reconcile the differences between surveyor and tenant.” A.W. Richeson, ‘English land measuring to 1800, 1966’.

“Norden’s text – unlike Rathborne’s – was intended more for a general audience than a readership of fellow or aspiring surveyors, and Norden emphasises not the specialised, technical aspects of the craft but instead the social, legal, and agricultural components of surveying. For Norden, the surveyor possess a social role that is inextricably linked to the management and preservation of agrarian life. As the Surveyor points out in his first dialogue with the farmer, ‘plotting’, while necessary, is not the ‘chiefe part’ of surveying practise… In the early modern period, surveys were conducted under the jurisdiction of the manorial court system, the Court Baron, and were typically known as Courts of Survey in reference to their authorising body and institutional context. The survey was not primarily a technical endeavour conducted by an individual surveyor that produced a visual document in the form of an estate map. On the contrary, as Norden ..indicates, it was a textual process that entailed the collection and interpretation of deeds and other legal documents. The result was not a ‘map’ per se but a textual inventory of land boundaries and features. .. The thematic versatility of the Surveyor’s dialogue is reflected in the frequency with which it has been cited in critical studies from a range of fields: not only early modern surveying, but also mathematics, geometry, and the history of science, mapping and the history of cartography, agrarian and agricultural history, and economic history, especially Marxist studies of the history of capitalism” Mark Netzloff ‘John Norden’s The Surveyor’s Dialogue (1618): A Critical Edition.’

“Norden’s fame came from his cartography, but surveying was always the mainstay of his career… In 1600 he was…appointed surveyor of crown woods and forests in southern England, and in 1605 he added the surveyorship of the duchy of Cornwall… It was from this position of eminence that in 1607 Norden published ‘The Surveyor’s Dialogue’ as a text to educate the landowner and tenant in the usefulness and trustworthiness of his profession. Surveyors were often considered the landowner’s creature and were accordingly distrusted by tenants. A popular work, the Dialogue shows Norden as a compassionate man, in sympathy with the respectable and hard-working of every class; the book ran to three editions in his lifetime” (ODNB).

A very good copy.

ESTC S120956. STC 18640b. Richeson, English Land Measuring to 1800, pp. 92–94. Kress 279 (1st edn.)
Stock Number: L3294 Category:

In stock