Long title: Hereford-shire with the true plot of the citie of Hereford as also the armes of thos Nobles as have been entitled with that dignitye. Copper engraving with later but not recent hand colouring. Overall size : 54.3cms.x 42cms. Image size : 510mm.x 390mm. Title in cartouche, town plan of Hereford top right . The city is shown in bird’s-eye view, with the streets named and the principal buildings and landmarks indicated by letter or number references A-Z (excluding J and U) and 3 -10. It marks the cathedral with a west tower, central spire and chapter house, the former friaries (Greyfriars being incorrectly named Whitefriars), churches, almshouses and hospitalls, crosses in High Town and Chapter House Yard, the castle, town walls and gates, St Ethelbert’s Well etc Speed measured and dragted the map on 1st September 1606 and this draft is held in Merton College, Oxford. The Battle of Ludford Bridge (which was actually fought in Shropshire) is positioned below the town plan. English text on verso. The figure with the dividers at bottom right is thought to be a self portrait of John Speed himself. Faint fox spot next to his head. Another surveyor bottom left. Overall sheet size: 52.4cms x 40.4cms; image size: 509mm x 381mm. Light waterstain bottom left margin and some spotting to border which a mount would cover and some staining on verso ; old repair to bottom right corner and 8.2 cms of the centrefold on the verso, four edge tears, one only into border else very good strong impression in good condition with attractive hand colouring.
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 subsidize his map-making, giving him “full liberty to express the inclination of my mind”. He became aquainted 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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early appearance.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 artistry has guaranteed the collectability of these maps in the centuries that have followed.
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