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The Isle Of Man Exactly Described ...

The Isle Of Man Exactly Described ... : J. Speed

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A rare, early printing of John Speed's renowned map of the Isle of Man. The map has a balanced and centrally based design, and this is of great importance to both its appearance and symbolic meaning. A compass rose sits at the centre of both the plate itself and the Island, which is flanked on either side by dedications and descriptions housed in identical symmetrical frameworks. Unusually, Speed employs two separate scales - one for the Island and one for the distance of the Island from its surrounding lands - which brings parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland into view. This device serves to emphasise the physical and symbolic centrality of the Isle of Man to the British Isles, thus elevating it in importance. It alludes also to a strong bond of togetherness between nations, a political statement which underpins this subtle, meaningful map This finely engraved and detailed map is most sought after and was produced by John Speed, historian, genealogist and cartographer for publication in his "... Theatre Of The Empire Of Great Britain ..." – the first atlas of the British Isles. Most often seen with English, or Latin, text printed on the reverse, this is a rare example lacking text and printed very soon after the atlas's first edition. The copperplate, engraved in the workshop of Amsterdam master map engraver, Jodocus Hondius, was first printed in atlas form in 1612 and remained in use, with amendments and alterations to publishers' imprints until late into the following century. Later printings, from an old and worn plate, are notably inferior whereas this example shows the engraving at its freshest on good quality paper. Speed's county maps were, and remain, amongst the most popular and sought-after on account of their vignettes often showing historical events, archaeological relics, portraits and explanatory notations. Most have the arms of local dignitaries and town plans, in many cases the first of those locations and surveyed by Speed himself. Speed had prepared the maps, for engraving, before about 1610, and they first appeared in atlas form two years later. In 1616 a Latin text edition appeared, intended for a learned European market. At this time the work was being printed by a London publisher, Thomas Snodham who, in addition to producing the completed atlas would sell the maps, as broadsheets with text pasted around the edges of the map sheets – few of these issues have survived but this example, a fine early printing, lacking text, may well have come from that stock.
mapmaker: J. Speed  
place and date of publication: London 1612-c.1616
medium and colour: Copperplate, Uncoloured
size in mm: 385 by 510mm (15.25 by 20 inches).
ref: 40113

Price: £ 1000

 
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