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Copper engraving with old hand colouring. Overall size: 55.2cms x 42.3cms. Image size: 411mm x 383 mm. Two town plans, of Lichfield right with key below (Pases are mentioned in a banner on the map divider on the scale of distance which is believed to indicate that Speed mapped the town himself) and a town plan of Stafford top left . Description of a great battle fought in Henry VI’s time in which the huge numbers killed areenumerated. English text verso describing the history and geography of Staffordshire. Two expert and virtually invisible repairs top and bottom of centrefold only noticeable when held up to the light; a little browning to margins and a few nicks bottom margin edge 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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early apppearance.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.