An early full color example of Speed's map of Denbigh, including coats of arms and a detailed town plan. Some minor misfolds and printer's creases have been flattened at the centerfold and a bit of toning, else a nice example. Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain… was first published in 1612, employing maps which Speed began publishing individually as early as 1596. It is without doubt the most famous of all English County Atlases, appearing in various editions for over 100 years.
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.