Gorgeous example of Speed's double hemisphere map of the World, one of the earliest obtainable world maps published in England.
Speed's map is based upon Grent's extremely rare map of the world published in London. The map is one of the earliest attainable world maps printed in English. The map shows California as an Island, an unusual NW Coast of America, conjectural Magellanica or The Southerne Unknowne Land, and extraordinary early detail throughout the map. It is surrounded by smaller celestial hemispheres, figural representations of Water, Earthe, Aire and Fire, a number of celestial phenomena & portraits of early explorers. Includes several lengthy notes on the South Pole & Straits of Magellan.
The present example is the very rare 1651 Roger Rea edition of the map, which includes the words "Are to be sold by Roger Rea the Elder and Younger at the Golden Crosse in Cornhill at the aga.t ye Exchange?" below the allegorical figure of Aire, along the bottom of the map.
This edition of the map bears the imprint of Roger Rea the Elder and Younger. The Reas had purchased the rights to Speed's work from William Garrett in 1659, who had previously purchased them from the widow of William Humble in the same year. Skelton suggests that the father and son intended a new edition of the atlas for the Restoration, of 1660. However, the atlas would appear not to have been published until 1665. This is borne out by an advertisement in the Term Catalogue by the subsequent owners of the plates, Thomas Bassett and Richard Chiswell, in 1675:
Mr John Speed's... Geography of the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland... together with his Prospect... all in one entire Volume, hath been, for seven Years past, out of Print, the greatest part of an Impression, then newly Printed, being destroyed by the late dreadful Fire, 1666.
This is borne out by the rarity of the Rea edition of the atlas. There is evidence that they planned an edition of 1666, as there are impressions of Sussex, Buckingham and Derby, with Rea's imprint, which bear that date. Rea would later sell the plates to Bassett and Chiswell, who would publish a new edition in 1676, with additional regional maps.
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.