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Copper engraving with the counties outlined in ORIGINAL hand colouring (most John Speed maps have modern colouring). Overall size: 52.6cms x 41.2cms. Image size: 504mm x 381mm. 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. The back is blank so there is no show through or discolouration from the text and later colour. Four armorials, a sailing ship, sea monsters and and an impressive compass rose bear the Arms of the Prince of Wales. Fleur de lys over shield watermark. Slight crack at top edge of centrefold with invisible strengthening and minute strengthening at bottom; extreme bottom left tip missing; v slight foxing on scale of miles and at extreme bottom margin else excellent condition. This edition has the addition of roads. This is a lovely example of an unusual and totally original map in 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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early appearance.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.