EXTREMELY RARE. A superb map of Surrey by arguably the most famous English cartographer, John Speed (1552-1629). It was published in the ‘Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine’, 1612, the first atlas of the whole British Isles. He was a tailor by trade and had a fascination for history. He used numerous sources for the counties, this one is derived from the manuscript of John Norden and had the plates engraved by Jodocus Hondius in Amsterdam. The book took several years to prepare hence earlier states appear of some, and in this case an earlier proof does exist. His maps are noted for being the first to include the boundaries of the hundreds, and for introducing town plans on the maps. Here we find a fine depiction’s of ‘Richmont’ and ‘Nonsuch’. This issue is from the extremely rare post Bassett and Chiswell edition by Cluer Dicey.
The Speed — Overton atlas was no doubt still available until Henry Overton’s death in 1751 and was probably still sold by his son, also Henry Overton. Although Henry the Younger remained in business until at least 1763 it is known that by 1754 he had sold the Speed plates to the firm of William and Cluer Dicey who list them in their catalogue of that date (Bodleian 258.c.109 p. 30). The firm of Dicey was founded by the father, William, sometime before 1720. His son Cluer joined him in or before 1736 as attested by an advert placed in the ‘Daily Journal’ 6 November. By this date the firm was doing well and had offices in both London and Nottingham. Its chief trade was in cheap popular ephemera and literature such as ballads, chapbooks and engraved portraits and views.
Apparently the Dicey’s saw fit not to add their own imprint immediately as when it was applied it was in the name ‘C. Dicey and Co.’, a form only used after the death of William in 1756. The surviving atlases have a mixture of plates with and without the imprints. Hodson states that ‘It is quite possible that a formal atlas was never put on sale and that those listed here are no more than samples of the maps put together by the Dicey’s, or their agents, as a convenient way to display their stock to trade customers.’ Of the four surviving examples of the atlas only one is in private hands. Chubb 32; Hodson 145; Quixley (1966) no. 7; refer Shirley ‘Atlases in the British Library’, T.Spe 1n; Worms & Baynton-Williams (2011).