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John Speed: Europ, and the cheife Cities contained therin described

Map: EUR1483
 
Cartographer: John Speed
Title: Europ, and the cheife Cities contained therin described
Date: 1627
Published: London
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 16 inches / 41 cm
Map ref: EUR1483
Description:
John Speed's celebrated map of Europe from the first edition of his Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World, the first world atlas by an Englishman. The map's upper margin is embellished with miniature bird's-eye views of London, Paris, Rome, Istanbul, Venice, Prague, Amsterdam, and Lisbon, the most important cities in Europe at the time. The left and right margins contain costumed figures depicting the local attire of the period.

John Speed was the most prominent and respected English map maker of the 17th century. He produced the first ever atlas of the world in English. It was attached as a supplement to his British county atlas and collectively the whole work was known as A Theater of the Empire of Great Britaine and a Prospect of the Most Famous parts of the World. This map, therefore, is the first English atlas map of Europe.

Although his atlas was intended for the English market, the maps were engraved and prepared in Amsterdam as there were no engravers with sufficient skills to do the work in England at the time. As a result, the map is heavily influenced by the Dutch style, especially with the inclusion of the sumptuous illustrated borders, generally only found on Dutch maps. The quality of the engraving is stunning, far superior to any other English maps of the period and on par with the finest Dutch Golden Age maps.

One of the most endearing characteristics of this map is the charming 17th-century description of Europe printed on the reverse of the map in English [image available upon request]. It gives a detailed overview of the history, geography, politics, and customs of Europe, often in unintentionally humorous language.

John Speed’s striking maps are highly collectible, and continue to be as appealing to collectors today as they were to Speed’s contemporaries.

George Humble (1627) edition. Strong impression. English text on verso. Image available on request.

[EUR1483]