375 x 520 mm., in later wash colour, edges trimmed but still with sufficient margins, otherwise in very good condition.
The ‘Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine’ by John Speed is arguably the second most important English county atlas ever printed and quite probably the most famous. Speed was a tailor by trade who had a fascination for history. It is the earliest published atlas of the entire British Isles and the first series of county maps to uniformly depict the boundaries, “the Shires diuisions, into Lathes, Hundreds, Wapentakes and Cantreds … I have separated”. He goes on to tell us that the source for much of this information was the ‘Parlament Rowles’, roads are not identified. The text on the verso is largely derived from that of William Camden’s ‘Britannia’. The engraving of the maps is the work of Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612). This example of the county of Cambridgeshire is from the 1676 edition published by Thomas Bassett and Richard Chiswell. His maps are noted for introducing town plans. Here we find a fine plan of Cambridge derived from the central section of a large plan of the city by John Hamond published in 1592. Globe (1985) p. 99; Hind (1952-55) II pp. 67-95; Schilder (2007) pp. 481-2; Schilder (2008) pp. 165-70; Shirley (2004) T.Spe 21j Skelton (1970) no. 92; Tooley ‘John Speed. A Personal View’, in ‘The Map Collector’ no. 1 pp. 4-9.