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Copper engraving with later hand colouring. Overall sheet size: 54.8cms x 41.7cms; image size: 503mm x 38.3383mm. Town plan of Southampton bottom right with key to the 20 most important places and Newport bottom left with the 14 most noteable places it also features four coats-of-arms, an elaborate mileage scale, two sailing ships, a dolphin and the Solent (with sandbanks) The velvety black text on verso contains some interesting items on the history and geography as always and says that,’The ayre is commended both for health and delight, whereof the first is witnessed by the long continuance of the Inhabitants in the state of their bodies before they be decayed, and the other for quantity gives place to no neighbouring Country’. Odd irregularity at margin edges else very good condition.
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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early appearance.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.