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Copper engraving. Fine later hand colouring. Roger Rea edition. Overall size : 51.8cms x 39.6cms. Image size; 502mm x 379mm. Blank verso. Town plan of Salesbury (Salisbury) top left; Stonehenge top right; below which is a description of this ‘ ancient Monument’ surrounded by a decorative border with the names of three major figures buried at Stonehenge (includes Uther Pendragon). 'With eight strong Castles this County hath beene guarded; in nineteene Market Townes her commodities are traded: into twenty nine Hundreds for businesse is divided, and in them are seated three hundred and foure Parish-Churches.'
Archival repairs on verso, three at folds, 12 cms strengthening bottom centrefold with small repair iat Flamstston (to left of Salisbury) and then , on verso, three further strips of strengthening on verso. See photos. From front these flaws are barely visible and it is a strong condition with very good colouring.
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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early apppearance.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.