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John Speed: Cornwall

Map: CORN580
Cartographer: John Speed
Title: Cornwall
Date: 1611
Published: London
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 16 inches / 41 cm
Map ref: CORN580
County map of Cornwall. Stunning map with elaborate cartouche, heraldry and vignettes as well as an inset of Launceston on the upper left.

With its distinctive shape and coastline providing ample opportunity to embellish the map with a variety of ships and sea creatures of various shapes and sizes, Cornwall is one of the most spectacular and recognizable maps present in Speed’s “Theater of the Empire of Great Britaine”.

Geographically, a medallion on the upper left states that the map was “described by the travills of John Norden and augmented and published by John Speed.” Norden was a well known mapmaker and surveyor in the 17th century with a strong connection to the powerful Cecil family. This was instrumental in obtaining several royal appointments, including being named the “Surveyor to the Duchy of Cornwall” in 1605. Speed used several other surveys by Norden, suggesting co-operation between the two men.

The inset of the town of Launceston on the upper left was from a different source. The town is situated in the middle of the Eastern border of the county and thus often perceived as being the gateway to Cornwall. Its first use as a vignette was by William Kip, in the 1607 edition of William Camden’s “Britannia.” There is some suggestion that Kip may have also used a survey of the town by Norden, which is now only known in manuscript form in the British Library. There is certainly no record of Norden producing a combination of his own surveys of Cornwall and Launceston.

The right border illustrates several pre-historic monuments situated in Cornwall, including “The Hurlers”, a stone circle on Bodmin Moor. The lower border is embellished with a row of heraldic shields connected to the county and the upper centre is dominated by a huge cartouche of the royal coats of arms, emphasizing the royal connection of the county as the Duchy of Cornwall, which is traditionally a title given to the Prince of Wales.

First edtion. Strong impression. English text on verso. Image available on request. [CORN580]