John Speed. “Bedfordshire. From A Prospect of the most famous Parts of the World.
London: George Humble, ca. 1627. 15 x 19 7/8 (plus complete margins). Engraving by Jodocus Hondius. Attractive hand coloring. Browning to paper. Couple of tears in extremities. Else, very good condition. Framed. With inset of Bedforde.
Speed is best known for his important Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, which has been called the supreme achievement in British map-making. Speed spent over 15 years assembling the information for this atlas, which was first issued in 1611 by John Sudbury and George Humble. It is one of the most influential atlases of the British Isles ever published. The atlas contains maps of the entire British Isles, the individual nations, and separate maps for the counties. These maps were primarily based on the work of Christopher Saxton and John Morden, but Speed updated information where possible and added new cartographic features such as town plans and indications of the hundreds, making his maps the most detailed and up-to-date of their time. Not only are the maps historically fascinating, but Speed also improved the decorative features of the maps, which were all finely engraved by Jodocus Hondius. Speed’s maps are some of the most appealing cartographic images ever produced. He included intricate calligraphy, coats-of-arms, town plans, small profiles of important buildings, vignettes of battles, fancy compass roses, figures of local inhabitants, cherubs, and many other attractive features. This map includes crests and people with animals in the fields surrounding the two detailed town plans. Speed’s British maps were immediately popular and remained so, well into the eighteenth century, with the atlas going through many editions. This map of is a lovely presentation of Speed’s work.