Copper engraving with later hand colouring. Overall size: 55.3 cms x 42.2cms. Image size: 511mm x 424mm. This is considered to be the most decorative map of Scotland. The plate was amended in 1652 with the four 'Commoners' or figures in national costume in place of the 'Royals' or reigning Stuart family. This edition is much harder to find than the first plate. The map itself is based on Mercator’s map of 1595, but has an inset of the Orkneys top right. Highly unusually this map is red ruled. The ruling in red of a book (it was an essential part of manuscript production in the middle ages), had come to be a costly extra process by the second half of the 17th century, and one that was reserved for items that were intended for presentation. This map is red ruled both on the front and the back of the map. Early outline hand colouring. Some browning to margins and one spot by Rona Island and and one spot below the Hebrides monster ; one 2.5cms remnant of old tape top margin verso and one mark bottom right margin on verso; top left extreme margin tip missing and slight loss to margin edge at right margin else very good condition indeed.
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 acquainted 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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early appearance.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.
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