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Copper engraving, later hand colouring.Overall size : 52.5cms.x 40.8cms. Image size : 508 x 385mms. Considered the most decorative map of the county with its inset elevation of Windsor Castle ,as seen from across the Thames, dominating the top; top left is a list of those who first received the honourable order of the garter. Top left is a description of the battle of Radcot Bridge that took place at in 1387, a compass rose and a title cartouche displaying the English Cross of St. George and surrounded by two putti ; four coats of arms adorn the top of the map under the decorative border. The English text on the verso describes the history of the castle in detail and declares : The Ayre is temperate, sweet, and delightfull and prospect for pleasure inferiour to none; the Soyle is plenteous of Corne, especially in the Vale of White-horse, that yeeldeth yeerly an admirable encrease. In a word, for Corne and Cattle, Waters and Woods, of profit and pleasure, it gives place unto none. “Mr John Speed’s… Geography of the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland… together with his Prospect… all in one entire Volume, hath been, for seven Years past, out of Print, the greatest part of an Impression, then newly Printed, being destroyed by the late dreadful Fire, 1666” so said an advertisement in the Term Catalogue by the new owners of the plates, Thomas Bassett and Richard Chiswell, in 1675. A little browning and spotting 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 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 Speed’s maps are unique historical documents of their time and the town plans featured on the maps are in most cases the first information we have of their early apppearance. Their artistry has guaranteed the collectability of these maps in the centuries that have followed.