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The Pilgrim’s Progress Dissected or a Complete View of Christian’s Travels from the City of Destruction to the Holy Land Designed as a Rational Amusement for Youth of both Sexes.

  • Author: John Bunyan (author) - John Wallis (mapmaker))
  • Publisher: John Wallis Ludgate Street - Mrs Newbery St. Pauls Churchyard - Champatre and Whitrow Jewry Street - R V Brooke Cheapside - John Binns Leeds.
  • Date: 1790
  • Dimensions: jigsaw: 18.2 x 28.7 cms


John Wallis’ scarce jigsaw map of 1790, delineating for the first time Christian’s journey in John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”.

About this piece:

The Pilgrim’s Progress Dissected or a Complete View of Christian’s Travels from the City of Destruction to the Holy Land Designed as a Rational Amusement for Youth of both Sexes.

[LONDON / Published June 7th 1790 by John Wallis Ludgate Street / Mrs Newbery St. Pauls Churchyard / Champatre and Whitrow Jewry Street / R V Brooke Cheapside / and John Binns Leeds.]

Wooden Box : 11 x 16 x 4.5 cms, with sliding lid and original printed paper label to top, the label slightly soiled and with two or three minor abrasions.

With: Key Map, 20 x 30.5 cms, uncoloured. Folded several times, with damages to margins (including loss of small section of lower right outer margin beyond plate mark) and several splits and small holes at fold junctures and sheet edges. Imprint at lower centre, Pubd May 26th 1790 by John Wallis, No.16 Ludgate Street, London.

With: Jigsaw Puzzle map, 18.2 x 28.7 cms, originally coloured, the paper pieces backed on wood. Imprint partially cropped at lower edge, as issued. Two small lugs missing in blank areas of image centre right, two or three further pieces with slight abrasion and paper loss, without any significant loss of image. A little light soiling but overall a remarkably well-preserved and complete example of this rare puzzle.

A rare and important map puzzle designed and published by John Wallis in 1790, and of particular significance in being the first cartographic representation of the journey described by English cleric & dissenter, John Bunyan [1623-1688] in his famous Christian allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress, first published in two parts between 1678 and 1684.

The puzzle portrays the journey of Bunyan’s Everyman character, Christian, from his home in the City of Destruction, shown at the lower centre of the map through many tests, trials and tribulations to his goal of the Celestial City. So we meet Evangelist, pass through the Slough of Despond, enter through the Wicket Gate, join the straight and narrow King’s Highway, which runs straight and true up the very centre of the map. We see the place where Christian drops his burden, discover House Beautiful on the top of the Hill of Difficulty, witness his armed combat with the arch-devil dragon-like Apollyon, pass with him safely through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, meet with his new companion Faithful and follow their onward journey to Vanity Fair, where Faithful suffers martyrdom at the hands of its authorities. Then onward with Christian’s new companion Hopeful, their escape from the Giant of Doubting Castle, their ascent of the Delectable Mountains and first glimpse of the Celestial City, onward to the Land of Beulah and finally, their difficult crossing of the River of Death to reach the slopes of Mount Zion and the Celestial City, over which hover a throng of trumpeting winged angels at the very top of the map.

The map assimilates and integrates all of the elements of Bunyan’s story in cleverly stylised diagrammatic and topographical detail. All of the notable locations, settlements and topographical features are depicted, many in profile. Principal scenes from the book are shown as small vignettes whilst an array of references to specific Biblical verses tie the story and allegory very closely to the teaching & lessons of the Scriptures.

It is said that the landscape and characters of Pilgrim’s Progress drew much from Bunyan’s own experiences in and around his native Bedfordshire. The Wicket Gate it is said was derived from the narrow doorway of the Abbey Church of St Mary and St Helena in Bunyan’s native village of Elstow, whilst the adjacent separate church tower, where Bunyan rang the church bells as a child, and later considered this a grievous sin, for some authorities, correlates with Beelzebub’s Castle, whence the Devil shoots down destructive darts on unsuspecting pilgrims in Bunyan’s book. House Beautiful was, according to some authorities, modelled on the now ruined Houghton House, whilst the high escarpment of the Barton Hills, has been considered by many as the likely template for Bunyan’s Delectable Mountains. The famous Slough of Despond was reputedly based either upon Squitch Fen, an area of wet marshland near Bunyan’s cottage in Harrowden, which he had to regularly cross en route to Elstow, or equally Souls’ Slough, on the Great North Road, close to Biggleswade.

Publisher John Wallis [c1745-1818] was one of the leading London juvenile map and game designers and makers of the late 18th and early 19th Century, a rival and competitor of William Darton. The son of a West Country apothecary, he was apprenticed into the London book trade in 1760, before setting up in partnership, as Wallis and Stonehouse in about 1775 at Yorick’s Head, No.16 Ludgate Street, London. The partnership went into bankruptcy in 1778 and shortly afterwards Wallis re-emerged, as a map and book seller on his own account, at the same No.16 Ludgate Street address. He remained at this address until moving to new premises at No.13 Warwick Square in 1805. Soon after this time he joined in partnership with his younger son, Edward Wallis, who continued the business after his father’s death in 1818. An elder son, John Wallis Jr [c1779-1730] , set up on his own account as a book and map seller in the Strand in 1806 before moving to Sidmouth, Devon in 1809.

Examples of Wallis’ Pilgrim’s Progress jigsaw map are of considerable rarity. It is especially unusual to find them complete, in original wooden box and with the accompanying paper key map. We have been unable to trace any other examples offered on the market in the last five years and have been able to locate only two examples of the puzzle offered at auction, in 2006 and 2008 respectively, within the last ten years.

The map is interestingly listed in a Catalogue of Dissected Puzzles of Superior Quality combining instruction with Amusement to be had at E. Wallis’s, 42 Skinner Street Snow Hill and at 12 High Street Pentonville, found bound in at the back of one of Edward Wallis’ undated juvenile books, circa 1815-20, where it is described as Pilgrim’s Progress Dissected and is priced at 3 shillings. The fact that son Edward Wallis was seemingly still publishing his father’s map puzzle some 25 years or more years after its first publication is evidence indeed of its enduring popularity and appeal.

The British Library example (lacking two pieces) was displayed in their Exhibition of Cartographical Curiosities in 1978, curated by Gillian Hill, and is illustrated on the front cover of the accompanying Catalogue and within the Catalogue itself.

Following Wallis’ initiative, several subsequent 19th Century editions of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress included an illustrated map of Christian’s Journey by way of a frontispiece guide. Several scenic puzzles of the Pilgrim’s Progress were also produced by John Betts, J W Barfoot and others from the 1830’s onwards.

In all an extremely rare and unusual late 18th Century map puzzle.

Refs: Gillian Hill: Cartographical Curiosities [British Library, 1978], Ill. Front cover, No.24, Ill. p.22 & p.61; BL example : C.110 c20; Linda Hannas: The English Jigsaw Puzzle 1760-1890, pp.30-35 & specifically p.116.