Date: 1611 FIRST EDITION
Described by John Norden..augmented by I. Speed And are to be solde by G Humble, Cum Privilegio. Jodocus Hondius caelavit. Copper engraving with later hand colouring. English text to verso. Overall size : 55.1cms x 45cms. Image size : 510mm x 383mm. English text to verso. Town plan of Colchester surmounted by coins bearing the heads of the Emperor Constantine and his parents Constantius and Helena, all Romans born in Britain. The left hand side depicts the arms of the Earles of Essex. London is shown bottom left and Tottenham,Newington, Hackney and Strafford Bow, Blackwall also marked. Centre fold as published. Two remnants of tape on verso at extreme top, initial letter on verso hand coloured, 4 cms old strengthening at bottom of centrefold repairing splits in margin and just into border, blends in well and and 11.5cms very thin strenthening , similarly aged, at extreme bottom of margin. One pinhole at top of centrefold as is often the case with first editions and is thought to be a direction to the binder. Highly decorative map, stunningly strong, velvety impression very attractively hand coloured and in very good condition.
Unfortunately, there are no surviving records of how many examples of the First Edition (or indeed of any edition) were printed. One might speculate that the First Edition could have numbered between about five hundred and one thousand examples. It should be remembered that market for maps was not well developed in England in 1612. This, together with the cost of the atlas, the need for a second edition soon afterwards, and the high quality of impressions from the third, Latin text, edition of 1616, suggests that the first print-run may have been closer to five hundred copies or so. Unfortunately, until an attempt is made at a census of surviving examples, these figures can be regarded as only the roughest of estimates. Ashley Baynton-Williams see http://www.mapforum.com/02/speed.htm
Until his late thirties, John Speed was a tailor by trade but his passion for history and map-making led him to gain a patron in Sir Fulke Greville, the poet and statesman, who found him a post in the customs and helped subsidise his map-making, giving him “full liberty to express the inclination of my mind”. He became acquainted with the publisher William Camden, whose descriptive text was used by Speed for most of the maps in his atlas “The Theatre of Empire of Great Britain” published most probably in 1612 although it bears the date 1611 on the main title page. The maps were engraved in Amsterdam by Jodocus Hondius, one of the foremost engravers of his time. Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early appearance. Their importance and their artistry have guaranteed the collectability of these maps in the centuries that have followed.
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