England, Wales, Scotalnd and Ireland described and Abridged… [together with] A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World…
- Author: SPEED, John
- Publication place: London
- Publisher: Roger Rea
- Publication date: 1666 and 1668.
- Physical description: Small oblong quarto (155 by 100mm), engraved title, 63 engraved maps (of which two are folding); [bound with] title, and 20 engraved maps, wear to folds of folding maps, loss to low margin of the Theatre’s title, map of Scotland trimmed to lower neatline, full calf, spine in six compartments separated by raised bands.
- Inventory reference: 2507
Although the Theatre is usually attributed to Speed, 40 of the maps are re-issues of a series engraved by Pieter van den Keere and first published c.1605, pre-dating Speed’s folio atlas to qualify as the earliest atlas of the British Isles. After being used in an edition of Camden’s ‘Britaninia’ published by Willem Blaeu in 1617, 40 of the original 44 plates were bought by George Humble, the son of one of the original publishers of Speed’s ‘Theatre’. He had the plates reworked, replacing the original Latin titles with English, and adding plate numbers. Dutch engravers were still needed; the engraver who added the title ‘Part of Scotland it is called of the inhabitance Stranauerne with his borderers’ probably wasn’t familiar with written English. Humble had 23 new maps engraved, placing the maps in the same order as the folio ‘Theatre’.
The Prospect was first published in 1646. Although Speed’s name does not appear on the title-page, or on any of the maps, this miniature atlas was most frequently issued bound with the miniature edition of the Theatre (as the case with the present example) and so is often attributed to him. Once again, the printing plates for the atlas were engraved in Amsterdam, by Pieter van den Keere, Jodocus Hondius’ brother-in-law. Van den Keere had a long and distinguished career as an engraver. Indeed, the World map, in the miniature edition may be his last dated engraving.The maps are simple reductions of the folio maps, but with the side panels omitted, under constraint of size. The accompanying text is also taken from the folio editions.
The title in the present atlas has been reworked from the 1666 edition whilst the maps have been retouched. All the cracked plates except that of Devon have been repaired. The Roger Rea editions of Speed atlases are rare due to a great deal of his stock being consumed in the Great Fire of 1666.
- Skelton 86
- Skelton, R. (1978). County Atlases of the British Isles 1579–1850. Folkestone: Dawson.
- Shirley T.KEE-1i
- Shirley, Rodney. (2004). Maps in the Atlases of the British Library: A descriptive catalogue cAD850 to 1800. London: British Library. 2 vols.