This example lacks the imprint,’Performed by John Speed’ to the right of the battle scene where it usually appear. The initial letter on verso is of the printer Thomas Snodham in 1614 and indicates a second edition. It is a copper engraving with early hand colouring. Overall size : 52.6cm. x 40.6cm. Image size : 503mm. x 378mm. English text to verso. Other omissions include Regulum in sea next to sailing ship, and island ‘Old Winchsey’in sea below Rye, indicating a PROOF of some sort and so particularly rare and desirable. Centre fold as issued. Speed used the 1596 map of Kent by Philip Symondson as his source for this map rather than the Saxton map of the south east counties. He added the town plans of Rochester and Canterbury (with a 74-point key) which he probably surveyed himself and are the earliest known of these cities. Along the top are seven armorials and a large royal coat of arms top right next to a compass rose. Due to Kent's extensive coastline, and proximity to France and the Netherlands, it had unrivaled advantages for trade, thus making its defence of great importance. Dover Castle had long been at the centre of the defences, but most other castles in Kent were made redundant when a series of modern artillery forts like Deal and Walmer were constructed in the 1540's by Henry VIII. The adoption of other fleet-anchorages along the Thames and the Medway, and the establishment of dockyards at Deptford and Woolwich by Henry VIII, and at Chatham by Elizabeth I, turned Kent into the best-defended area in the kingdom throughout the Tudor and early Stuart periods. Small separation at extreme bottom of the centrefold , odd mark to the margins else fine condition. Stunning map with rare early hand colouring and in an unusual proof state and, most importantly, in fine condition.
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 and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early apppearance. Their artistry has guaranteed the collectability of these maps in the centuries that have followed.
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