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Pembrokeshyre describedby John Speed

£550.00 Approx $676.51, €641.77

Code: 54797



Date: 1627

Long title:Penbrokshyre described and the sittuations both of Penbroke and St Davids shewed in due form as they were taken by John Speed. Both town plans most probably mapped by John Speed himself,those with mention of ‘pases’ are believed to be his work.   Copper engraving by Jodocus Hondius; later hand colouring . Overall size : 52.1cms.x 41.5cms. Image size : 504mm x 380mm. Decorative cartouche  surmounted by royal coat of arms containing county name. Plan of Penbroke at upper left, plan of St.Davids lower right. Scale of distance at bottom centre. Eleven armorials. English text to verso. Centre fold as issued .  
Alasdair Hawkyard in his commentary in the counties of Britain by John Speed declares that  Speed’s map for Pembrokeshire is one of the most successful in the way it conveys a sense of the county’s landscape with its hilly uplands and less dramatic southern parts  and the variety of its coastline with its offshore islands and rocks, headlands and havens. Slate was quarried in the north of the county, and Pembrokeshire slates had been used in roofing Sir Thomas Gresham’s Stock Exchange in London.  Speed commented on the number of empty houses in Pembroke and the indifferent state of repair of all its buildings, and of St David’s he said: A city with few inhabitants, and no more houses than inserted in the draught (drawing); yet hath it a fair cathedral church.  Two minute pinpricks either side of centrefold; slight publisher’s crease either side of centrefold  and two small areas of thinness only visible when held up to the light else excellent 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 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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early appearance.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.