Copper engraving with later hand colouring. Overall size : 56.6cms x 44.2cms. Image size : 505mm x 384mm. English text verso describing the history and geography of the county. Inset plan of Chester and Armes of the Earles of Chester since the Normans Conquest. Four decorative cartouches. Speed has used William Smith's revisions of Saxton and the Braun & Hogenberg plan of Chester (the gallows continue to stand above the Earl's Eye (The Meadows) in Boughton on the right hand side). Angels and globes decorate the bottom right and left corners. Scale of distance at bottom right. Centre fold as published. Circular mark and three smaller dots in top margin and odd mark to right hand margin 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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early appearance.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.`
Thomas Basset (1637 - 1699) and Richard Chiswell (January 4, 1640 - May 3, 1711), publishing as Basset and Chiswell, were English booksellers and map publishers active in the latter half of the 17th century. Though both Basset and Chiswell worked independently, their most significant cartographic accomplishment was their joint purchase of John Speed's map plates, from an enigmatic figure known only as Willoughby, in 1675. Basset and Chiswell, working in concert, added and expanded Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, publishing a new and influential edition of the atlas in 1676. Following the publication of the Theatre the partnership dissolved, the Basset and Chiswell imprint appearing on no subsequent maps, and both went on to separate careers. Basset published several other works and ran a bookstore on Fleet Street, London, until declaring bankruptcy in 1696. He died just a few years later in 1699. Chiswell was somewhat more successful, publishing numerous maps and books well into the 1700s. He was praised and admired by his contemporaries; one of whom, John Dunton, writing in 1705 comments that Chiswell "Well deserves the title of Metropolitan Bookseller of England, if not the whole world. His name at the bottom of a title-page does sufficiently recommend the book. He has not been known to print either a bad book, or on a bad paper". Chiswell died on May 3 of 1711 and is commemorated by a monument, erected by his son and still visible in St. Botolph-without-Aldgate Church
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