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FIRST EDITION with ORIGINAL hand colouring, in fine condition exceedingly rare thus. Long title:Glamorgan shire. With the sittuations of the cheife towne Cardyff and ancient Landaffe described. Copper engraving, later but not modern hand colouring. Overall size : 53.4cms x 41.3 cms. Plate size : 510mm x 383mm. Scale of distance. Engraved by Jodocus Hondius. Imprint of the publishers Sudbury and Humble. English text to verso with large initial letter signifying the printers William Halland and John Beale , printers of the first edition (Speed describes Cardiff as the : fairest town of all south Wales. He also deems: The Aire is temperate, and gives more content to the mind, then the Soile doth fruit or ease unto Travellers..). The central title cartouche is flanked on two sides by town plans of Cardiff and Llandaff. In the sea area a lady bearing the royal standard rides on the back of a sea monster. Ship with billowing sails bottom left above the scale of English miles. Pinprick hole top and bottom of the centrefold, believed to be a direction to the binder and usual in First Editions else a strong, velvety impression as one would expect with contemporary colour and in fine condition. Exceedingly rare as the pencil notation on verso from an old mapseller attests.
Unfortunately, there are no surviving records of how many examples of the First Edition (or indeed of any edition) were printed. One might speculate that the First Edition could have numbered between about five hundred and one thousand examples. It should be remembered that market for maps was not well developed in England in 1612. This, together with the cost of the atlas, the need for a second edition soon afterwards, and the high quality of impressions from the third, Latin text, edition of 1616, suggests that the first print-run may have been closer to five hundred copies or so. Unfortunately, until an attempt is made at a census of surviving examples, these figures can be regarded as only the roughest of estimates. Ashley Baynton-Williams see http://www.mapforum.com/02/speed.htm
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 subsidise his map-making, giving him “full liberty to express the inclination of my mind”. He became acquainted 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 and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early appearance. Their importance and their artistry have guaranteed the collectability of these maps in the centuries that have followed.