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Copper engraving with later hand colouring. Overall size : 56cms.x 42.8cms. Image size : 504mm.x 382mm. Title in cartouche, town plan of Durham. Battle of Nevilles Crosse between the English and the Scots led by David Bruse (sic) Anno 1346.. Large royal coat of arms top left; compass rose and scale of miles bottom of map. ( English text on verso describing the history and geographical features of the county). Centre fold as issued. One repaired small area of loss at centrefold south of Durham, barely visible
and one in bottom margin; four marginal repairs on verso not near map itself. Strong impression, attractively coloured example of a stunning and decorative map.
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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early apppearance.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.