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Engraved by Jodocus Hondius solde by Thomas Bassett and Richard Chiswell. Copper engraving with later but not recent hand colouring. Overall size : 56.3cms x 42.6cms. Image size : 510mm x 383mm. This is one of the most sought after of John Speed’s maps in a large part due due to its left and rights panels displaying the portraits of all the kings of the houses of Lancaster and York. Speed declares the: Air subtile and piercing, not troubled with gross vapours or foggie mists, by reason wherof the people of that Country live long and healthfully, and are not subject to strange and unknown diseases.'
Although most of the detail of Speed's map is copied from Saxton, Whitaker writes that this was the first map of Lancashire to show the hundreds, and that the inset was probably the first printed town plan of Lancaster (copied by Braun and Hogenberg in 1618). On the left side of the map are four portraits of Lancastrian kings (Henrys IV to VII); on the right are three Yorkish Kings (Richard III and Edwards IV & V) and a portrait of Elizabeth, who united the families by marrying Henry VII. A mermaid preens herself in the sea in between two monsters. WHITAKER: 41. Chubb XX . Skelton7 5.2cms strengthening bottom centrefold on verso and 3.8 cms at top of centrefold; some browning to town plan 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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early apppearance. Their artistry has guaranteed the collectability of these maps in the centuries that have followed.