Copper engraving by Jodocus Hondius. ; later hand colouring. Overall size 55.6cms x 41.7cms. Image size : 507mm x 382mm. Inset plan of Radnor, ornamental cartouche, compass rose surmounting distance scales etc. Centre fold as published. English text on verso describing the history and geography of the county: ‘ The Soil is hungry, though not barren and that in the East and South the best: the other parts ar rough and churlish and hardly bettered by painful labour’. Overall toning and odd mark to margins; weakness at centrefold where backstrip has been removed and this weakness shows from the front in a little corrugation in the bottom margin at the centrefold and one minute split bottom of centrefold and another small, old repair bottom centrefold else very good 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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early apppearance.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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