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Stock# 68253

Rare Miniature Speed Atlas of the World.

A wonderful miniature John Speed atlas of the world, first issued by William Humble, son of George Humble, in 1646. This edition published by Roger Rea in 1668. The elder Humble was the original publisher of the folio edition of the Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World, which was issued in 1627. The miniature atlas leveraged the intellectual property that the Humble family owned in the folio atlas and made it accessible to the masses in a smaller, less expensive format.

To engrave the maps in the atlas, Humble hired the experienced Dutch engraver Pieter van den Keere whose name is now closely associated with the "miniature Speeds". The descriptive text accompanying the maps is quite extensive and accessible.

The atlas was sometimes issued as two volumes in one, along with the British Isles county atlas England Wales Scotland and Ireland Described… That is not the case here.

This atlas was published in London in 1668, two years after the catastrophic Great Fire, which destroyed most of the city center. Potentially as a consequence of that, Roger Rea was publishing at the Gilded Cross Winchester Street, near Gresham College - outside of the area damaged by the fire.


The atlas includes the following maps:

  1. A New and Accurat Map of the World
  2. Asia
  3. Africa
  4. Europa
  5. America (supplied from a slightly smaller copy)
  6. Greece
  7. The Romane Empire
  8. Germania
  9. Bohemia
  10. Gallia
  11. A New Mape of Ye XVII Provinces of Low Germanie
  12. Hispania
  13. Italia
  14. Hungaria
  15. Dania
  16. Polonia
  17. Persia
  18. The Turkish Empire
  19. China
  20. Tartaria
Condition Description
Oblong octavo. Late-19th-century ½ maroon morocco over marbled paper boards; spine gilt-lettered "Most Famous Parts of the World - London 1668" (backstrap a little cracked). Collation: 20 engraved maps (America supplied); 206 pages (155 misnumbered "151".) (Small hole in 199.)
Shirley (BL Atlases) T.KEE-1i; Shirley 368; McLaughlin 8; Burden 268.
John Speed Biography

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.