|Published||Jodocus Hondius Caelavit, Anno Domini 1610. Performed by Iohn Speed, and are to be solde in Popes heade alley by Ioh. Sudb. and G. Humbell. cum Privilegio [London, 1646]|
|Dimensions||385 x 510 mm|
A set of four boxed maps on a single plate depicting four British islands: The Farne islands, Holy Island, Guernsey, and Jersey, from The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine. Landmarks of each of the islands are shown pictorially, and seas are shown as either hatchuring or stippling to give the plate a checkerboard effect. Each map also features a scale in miles, a compass rose, and a decorative strapwork title cartouche. The privilege and publication line is enclosed in a central cartouche at bottom, which features the Arms of the Kingdom supported by a pair of putti.
English text on verso describing the islands.
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. The maps from this atlas are the best known and most sought-after of all county maps. The maps were derived mainly from the earlier prototypes of Christopher Saxton and Robert Norden but with notable improvements including parish "Hundreds" and county boundaries, town plans and embellishments such as the coats of arms of local Earls, Dukes, and the Royal Household. The maps are famed for their borders consisting of local inhabitants in national costume and panoramic vignette views of major cities and towns. An added feature is that regular atlas copies have English text printed on the reverse, giving a charming description of life in the early seventeenth century of the region. The overall effect produced very decorative, attractive and informative maps.
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.
Condition: Central vertical fold as issued. Repaired tears to bottom of central fold. Chips and repaired tears to edges of sheet. Manuscript infill and repaired loss to left hand border.