Long title:The Countye of Monmouth with the sittuation of the Shire-towe Described Ann 1610. Copper engraving, later hand colouring. Overall size : 52.7cms.x 39.9cms. Image size : 510 x 384mms. Decorative cartouche containing county name. Plan of Monmouth at top left. with medallion portrait of Henry the Great (V)below : triumpher over France. The Prince of Wales feathers in the bottom right indicate the English/Welsh nature of Monmouth which was the last of the English shires to be created , being formed in 1536 by joining Gwent with the district of of Gwynllwg beyond the river Usk. English text to verso. Scale of distance at bottom right. Centre fold as published. Centrefold strengthened to correct split 3.8cms bottom margin and very small area of loss to left of Ragland castle across border.
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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early apppearance.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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