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Described by John Norden. Augmeted by J Speed . Solde by Thomas Bassett in Fleetstreet and Richard Chiswell in St Pauls Churchyard. Copper engraving with later hand colouring. Overall size : 53.8cms.x 43cms. Image size : 510mm.x 383mm. Speed used the information for this map from the unpublished map by John Norden. Norden was a contemporary of Saxton and was the first to plan a series of county histories; however he failed to attract sufficient backing for his enterprise and never completed it. His surveying was superior to Saxton's, and Speed preferred to use Norden as a source where possible. Engraved by Jodocus Hondius , the map has inset town plans of London and Westminster (also after Norden's surveys published 1593) and views of St Paul's and Westminster Cathedral. English text on verso describing the county. Six edge repairs to margins on verso and two cracks into 3.5cms from bottom edge slightly into map on either side of centrefold; backstub stuck down at centrefold strengthening two cracks. Archival repairs to two corners. Much nicer than this sounds. SKELTON: 18.
Unfortunately, there are no surviving records of how many examples of the First Edition (or indeed of any edition) were printed. One might speculate that the First Edition could have numbered between about five hundred and one thousand examples. It should be remembered that market for maps was not well developed in England in 1612. This, together with the cost of the atlas, the need for a second edition soon afterwards, and the high quality of impressions from the third, Latin text, edition of 1616, suggests that the first print-run may have been closer to five hundred copies or so. Unfortunately, until an attempt is made at a census of surviving examples, these figures can be regarded as only the roughest of estimates. Ashley Baynton-Williams see http://www.mapforum.com/02/speed.htm
This is a lovely example of this rare map. To have early colour heightened by gold makes it even more unusual - this form of colouring was the most costly and reserved for the very rich. A rare piece indeed. It is in very good condition - slight overall toning perhaps, one repaired crack , virtually invisible 1.5cms into Westminster plan; four old pieces of tape on verso from an old framing else glorious example.
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.`