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Bassett and Chiswell edition. Engraved by Jodocus Hondius. Copper engraving with later hand colouring. Overall size : 53cms x 41cms. Image size : 505mm x 385mm. Inset plan of Corcke (Cork) bottom right and Lymericke (Limerick) top left. Title in decorative cartouche surmounted by the Irish harp top right and scale of miles with Irish surveyor atop, bottom left. English text verso describing the history and geography of the land on the right hand page and with an index on the left. Invisible, archival strenthening 2 cms foot of centrefold on verso and virtually invisible 3 cms strenthening behind key to Corcke buildings (which is a little faint) . Man playing a harp riding a sea monster. Extreme bottom right margin evened up with old paper to facilitate framing and or mounting.
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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early apppearance.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.