SPEED, John (1552 - 1629). Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine. The Islands: Holy Iland, Farne, Garnsey, Jarsey. London:Bassett & Chiswell, 1676.
Single sheet (15 x 20 inches) Full margins showing the plate mark (slight browning to edge).
An excellent map by John Speed of the English Islands of: Farne and Holy Island, off the Northumbrian coast; and the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey. This map is a part of the highly regarded Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine. It was elaborated engraved by Jodocus Hondius in his workshop in Amsterdam in 1610.
"Jodocus Hondius celavit_Anno 1610"
The Islands is a prime example of the level of craft and detail found in Speed's Atlas. Each quartered map is decorated with small title cartouche, a compass rose, dividers and a mileage scale. The Islands themselves are detailed with significant buildings, fortresses, and windmills. The German Ocean and British Sea surround these islands. The coat of arms of Charles I as Duke of York are found at the bottom of the page, flanked by early revival putti and framed with light fretwork.
The Holy Island was made by James Burnell; otherwise "Performed by Iohn Speede. […]"
The 1676 edition of Speed's atlas never came with original color. The uncolored editions of Speed's maps are classic and highly sought after, as they reflect the true quality of Speed's work unhindered by colorists. The examples of this map of the Islands 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 the Islands 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.