Highly decorative map of the British Isles, first published by John Speed in 1611.
Speed based his map upon Saxton's map of England and Wales, Hondius' map of Ireland and Mercator's map of Scotland.
Speed's map is considered the most decorative map of the British Isles to appear in a commercial atlas in the 17th Century. Engraved by Jodocus Hondius, the map is a true work of art, combining great detail with artistic flourishes, including a compass rose, cherubs, ships, sea monsters, the Royal coats of arms, ancient coins showing Britannia and Cunobelin - the latter known to Shakespeare as Cymbeline. Two views show London c.1600, with St Pauls and the Tower on the north bank and the Globe and the Bear-baiting ring on the South; and Edinburgh, showing the city under seige c.1544.
The sea is engraved in the style made famous by Hondius and is best appreciated in the early states, before the effect is lost, as delicate engraving of this type soon wore smooth. No river bridges are shown except those crossing the Thames.
The map was re-issued many times in Speed's atlases and as a separate publication. English text on verso.
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.