SPEED, John (1552 - 1629). Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine. Montgomery Shire. London: Bassett & Chiswell, 1676.
Single sheet (15 x 20 inches) Full margins showing the plate mark (slight browning to edge, foxing).
A handsome uncolored map of Montogmeryshire, as part of John Speed's famous Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine. The copper plates for this map were gngraved by Jodocus Hondius in his workshop in Amsterdam, resulting in a prime example of the level of craft and detail found in the Atlas.
A title cartouche baring the royal coat of arms flanked by a set of hounds, introduce us to this stunning map of Montgomery Shire.
A desirable and innovative aspect to Speed's maps are his town plan insets. Here we find the town of Montgomery laid out by John Speed himself, as indicated by the 'Scale of Pases'. This town plan was particularly mapped to the smallest details, such as the water well and towers. The key for his letter guide to the significant roads and buildings and Montgomery shield are also included.
The coat of arms of Phillip Herbert, the 1st Earle of Montgomery, is showcased in the lower left corner. Philip was first given the title of 4th Earl of Pembroke and was the chief favorite of James I for many years. In 1605, King James I of England created him Earl of Montgomery and Baron Herbert of Shurland. In 1630, when he succeeded to the Earldom of Pembroke, the head of the Herbert family has carried the double title of Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery. The arms shown here are used for the representations of both titles.
This edition of the map has the later addition of a strapwork frame, holding the text "Described by Christopher Saxton Augemented and published by John Speed and are to be solde by the Thomas Bassett in Fleetstreet, and Ric Chiswell in St Paul's Churchyard".
Some earlier published maps left this space blank.
The county maps found in the Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine were the first consistent attempt to show territorial divisions, but it was mainly Speed's town plans that were the major innovation and probably his greatest contribution to British cartography. Together, they formed the first printed collection of town plans of the British Isles and, for at least 50 of the 73 included in the Theatre, it was the first time these towns had been mapped. While being the first English atlas of the British Isles, Speed's Atlas was also one of the first attempts to accurately survey Ireland and to incorporate a comprehensive list of their town plans into the maps. The 1676 edition of Speed's atlas never came with original color. The examples of this map of the Montgomeryshire should always be uncolored and never colored.
Born in Cheshire, John Speed developed his interest in maps in the 1580s, after moving to London to pursue his passions outside of tailoring. He there joined the Society of Antiquaries, where his enthusiasm for cartography won him the attention of William Camden, Robert Cotton, and Sir Fulke Greville. By working with these figures, Speed was able to do a large amount of research for his own work. In 1596, Greville bequeathed Speed with an unlimited allowance to research, and then later write, the Historie of Great Britaine. It was during this project which Speed had the encouragement to add a cartographic supplement to the work - what we today know as his most famous atlas. After being first published in 1611-1612, the 'Theatre of Great Britain' dominated the seventeenth-century English map market, going through many reprints and editions.
Thanks to the Atlas' success, Speed earned the title of England's most well-known Stuart period cartographer and his work became the blueprint for folio atlases until the mid-18th century. Historically, Speed is also noted for placing England into the mainstream of map publishing, which had been dominated by the Dutch since the late sixteenth century.
This map of Montgomeryshire is an excellent part of the Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, and would be an outstanding addition to all map collections.
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.