SPEED, John (1552 - 1629). "A Map of Virginia and Maryland". London: Bassett, 1776.
Single sheet (17 ¼ x 22 inches) (Good margins, light offsetting, foxing along edge)
Speed's handsomely engraved work is one of the earliest English maps of the area and one of the first to demarcate the borders of colonial Virginia and Maryland.
From A Prospect of the Most Important Parts of the World, the map is beautifully embellished with an strikingly elegant title cartouche, the Royal English coat-of-arms, a fine compass rose, and rhumb lines. The accuracy of the map allows you to see the terrain of the settlements, Native American tribes, and of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
This is a map which heavily focuses on the earliest of the American colonies. In 1607, Jamestown became the first colony established as part of 'the New World' by English settlers and traders. Officially the names of these two states stem from the honors of Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of King Charles I; and the 'Virgin Queen' Elizabeth I.
Just three years before the publication of Speed's map, Augustine Herrman had conducted the first thorough surveys of Maryland at the behest of Lord Baltimore. Speed's was one of the first maps to adopt this groundbreaking cartography. However, in general outline Speed still followed the prototype of Captain John Smith, who conducted the first European survey of Chesapeake Bay.
Speed's map "is the last major derivative of the Smith map, and it is unique as an example of the transition from one basic prototype map to another. The delineation of the land area follows Smith while the toponymic prototype was the Herrman map of 1673." (Verner)
"A Map of Virginia and Maryland" is beautifully uncolored, showing the fine impression in its rare raw state. Colorists frequently try to improve the map by adding color. However, this may potentially be done by amateurs. The map should always be left uncolored; thus in the same format it was studied by Speed and his contemporaries.
The name John Speed is synonymous with excellent English cartography. In fact, he is arguably the most famous of all English cartographers from the 17th century and on.
Born in 1552, in the village of Farndon, southern Welsh border of Chestershire.
As a young man, he began his career as part of his father's tailoring business. However, he grew tired of this path and sought a career elsewhere. Speed took the risk of relocating south, settling in London around 1582.
His extensive knowledge of history and the arts, led him to join the Society of Antiquaries, where his popularity and passion was widely regarded. Speed fell into the liking of Sir Fulke Greenville, and soon Greenville, a man of great means, became his benefactor. He secure Speed with a position in Customs Service, which allowed the young man to make a living as well as having the freedom to pursue his other interests - one of which we know is cartography.
In his successful career in cartography, Speed published two superbly renowned atlases: 'Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine' in 1612, the first Atlas devoted to the British Isles; and 'A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World' in 1627. The latter was the first world atlas to be published by an Englishman, and it began to set a path for future English cartography. Until then, the Dutch were heavily dominating the map market.
This large and ambitious undertaking, from which the 'Map of Virginia and Maryland' comes from, was an extension from the Theatre - adding 28 new maps to the work - all from an English perspective.
For more information on this map, or a warm welcome to see other maps and books of our collection at 72nd Street NYC, please contact Natalie Zadrozna.