A fine exmaple of an early state of Speed's highly-decorative map of Wales, heightened in gold.
This attractive map is one of the most historically important and artistically virtuous maps of Wales. It is richly embellished with 16 town views, 4 coats of arms and a sailing ship, 2 sea monsters and a elaborate compass rose.
John Speed (1552-1629) was the most important English mapmaker of the first half of the 17th Century, being the first to produce grand folio atlases. The present map is from Speed's The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (1611), the first atlas focusing on the British Isles. Speed later produced a world atlas, Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World (1627). He set a high standard for cartography that English mapmakers would not rival for three generations.
The fine quality of engraving evident on the map is due to the fact that Speed hired Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612), Amsterdam's leading mapmaker to engrave the plates for the
Theatre. No English engraver of the period had such skills, and Hondius was well known in London, having worked there as a map designer and engraver from 1583 to 1592. Notably, the wavy lines which embellish the seas were a trademark of Hondius's engraving style.
John Speed (1551 or '52 - 28 July 1629) was the best known English mapmaker of the Stuart period. Speed came to mapmaking late in life, producing his first maps in the 1590s and entering the trade in earnest when he was almost 60 years old.
John Speed's fame, which continues to this day, lies with two atlases, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (first published 1612), and the Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World (1627). While The Theatre ... started as solely a county atlas, it grew into an impressive world atlas with the inclusion of the Prospect in 1627. The plates for the atlas passed through many hands in the 17th century, and the book finally reached its apotheosis in 1676 when it was published by Thomas Bassett and Richard Chiswell, with a number of important maps added for the first time.