Copper engraving; later hand colouring . Iconic and highly decorative map of the whole of Wales. Woodcut initial by John Dawson on verso. Overall size: 55.8cms x 42.6cms. Image size: 505mm x 382mm. Map flanked by 12 views of the principal towns (Beaumaris, Carnarvan, Harlieg, Cardigan, Penbrok, Carmarthen, Denbigh, Flint, Montgomery, Radnor, Brecknok, Cardife) and 4 views of the cathedrals (St Davids, Landafe, Bangor, St Asaph). Centre fold as published. Archival repair on back bottom left corner and six spots strengthened on verso, invisible from the front. Remnants of old writing on bottom margin on verso which show through slightly on the front bottom margin but not obtrusively. One small hole next to ship in the Beaumaris vignette else good strong impression in good condition, beautifully coloured.
The text on the verso describes ' the English call it Wales, as the people Welshmen, which is , strange and strangers ; for so at this day the dwellers of Tyroll in the higher Germany, whence our Saxons are said to have come, doe name the Italians (their next neighbour) a Welsh-man , and his language Welsh'.The map was probably engraved by Jodocus Hondius as the method by which the sea is shaded was introduced by him. Four armorials, a sailing ship, sea monsters and and an impressive compass rose bear the Arms of the Prince of Wales.
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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early appearance. Their artistry has guaranteed the collectability of these maps in the centuries that have followed.
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