|Method||Copper engraved with hand colour|
|Published||Are to be sold by Tho. Bassett in Fleet Street and Ric. Chiswell in St. Pauls Church yard. [London, 1676]|
|Dimensions||305 x 518 mm|
John Speed's double hemisphere map of the world, from the 1676 Bassett and Chiswell edition of the 'Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World.' The globe, divided into the New and Old worlds, is outlined in beautiful hand colour and features numerous notations in English about the exploration of the globe, and the extent of English cartographic knowledge at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Quirks include the 'Kingdom of Parrats,' the Land of Beach, and the spice-rich Maletur, all part of the massive southern super-continent of Magellanica. Japan is shown in as a squat oval, oriented at right angles to a truncated China. The phantom islands of Brazil and Frisland can be seen in the north Atlantic, and sea monsters and ships occupy many blank spaces in the oceans. Perhaps the most famous quirk of this map is the representation of California as an island, following William Grent's 1625 world map, though shown much more elongated than Grent's squat representation.
In the spaces around the hemispheres, the map is crammed with decorative and scientific illustrations in a somewhat cruder style than the map itself, which was likely engraved by Abraham Goos. Like the earlier Hondius world map, the four elements are shown personified, flanking a pair of celestial hemispheres. The remaining spaces contain a Ptolemaic earth-centric model of the Solar System, a figure of an armillary sphere, and a pair of representations of the workings of solar and lunar eclipses. Four small portraits celebrate the contribution of Englishmen and 'Strangers' to cartographic and geographic knowledge, showing Sir Francis Drake, Thomas Cavendish (here rendered as 'Candish'), Ferdinand Magellan, and Oliver van Noort.
John Speed (1552-1629) is the most famous of all English cartographers, primarily as a result of The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, the first atlas of the British Isles. Speed was born in 1552 at Farndon, Cheshire. Like his father before him he was a tailor by trade, but around 1582 he moved to London. During his spare time Speed pursued his interests of history and cartography and in 1595 his first map of Canaan was published in the "Biblical Times". This raised his profile and he soon came to the attention of poet and dramatist Sir Fulke Greville a prominent figure in the court of Queen Elizabeth. Greville as Treasurer of the Royal Navy gave Speed an appointment in the Customs Service giving him a steady income and time to pursue cartography. Through his work he became a member of such learned societies as the Society of Antiquaries and associated with the likes of William Camden Robert Cotton and William Lambarde. He died in 1629 at the age of seventy-seven.
Shirley 317 iv/iv.
Condition: Central vertical fold as issued. Old repair to splitting at bottom of central fold. Minor chipping and time toning to edges of sheet. Old ink stain on verso. English text on verso.