Huntington Both Shire and Shire Towne with the Ancient Citie Ely Described

Method Copper engraved with hand colour
Artist Speed, John
Published Performed by Iohn Speed And are to be sold by Thomas Bassett in Fleet Street and Richard Chiswell in St. Paul's Churchyard. Jodocus Hondius Caelavit Anno Domini 1662 [London, 1676]
Dimensions 382 x 510 mm
Notes A highly detailed and decorative map of Huntingdonshire, from the Bassett and Chiswell printing of John Speed's The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine. The county is divided into the Hundreds, with borders outlined in hand colour, towns and villages picked out in red, and hills, forests, and enclosures shown pictorially. Much of the fens to the north of the county and the neighbouring Isle of Ely are shown as large dotted areas, and the British tribe of the Iceni are labelled prominently to the north of Huntingdon. Because of the relatively small scale of the historic county, Speed has included not only a town plan of Huntingdon, but also an inset map of Ely in the top right corner, with a large explanatory text below. In a similar panel occupying the left hand side of the sheet, the arms of the Earls of Huntingdon are blazoned, while the strapwork title cartouche is flanked by a pair of huntsmen. The map also features the celebrated Roman road of Watling Street, shown as a pair of dotted lines. Speed's map of Huntingdonshire appears to have been reworked extensively prior to publication, perhaps, as Shirley suggests, under the correction of William Camden, Speed's great friend and supporter who was a native of Huntingdonshire. The plate was again reworked for Roger Rea's edition of Speed's atlas, at which time Hondius' original imprimatur in the bottom right was updated to read '1662.'

English text on verso describing the county, accompanied by a list of the hundreds, and an alphabetical list of place names.

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 John 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.

For the publication of his prestigious atlas, Speed turned to the most successful London print-sellers of the day, John Sudbury and George Humble. William Camden introduced the leading Flemish engraver, Jodocus Hondius Sr. to John Speed in 1607 because first choice engraver William Rogers had died a few years earlier. Work commenced with the printed proofs being sent back and forth between London and Amsterdam for correction and was finally sent to London in 1611 for publication. The work was an immediate success, with the maps themselves being printed for the next 150 years.

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. Minor time toning to edges of sheet. English text on verso.
Framing unmounted
Price £475.00
Stock ID 51553