The stunning atlas printed in 1672 and later hand coloured, and is two of cartographer John Speed’s published works printed as one.
It begins with the ‘Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain, Presenting an Exact Geography of the Kingdom of England, Scotland, Ireland and the Isles adjoyning.’ And attached to it is ‘A Prospect of the most Famous Parts of the World… With many Additions never before Extant.’
The two volumes were put together and printed in 1672, some years after the great map-maker’s death. This is the first time they appeared as one and includes eight new maps of Virginia and Maryland, New England, Carolina, Jamaica and Barbados, East India, Russia and Canaan.
These atlases rarely turn up for sale and this is unique because it has been painstakingly hand-coloured – probably in the 18th century. The colours are superbly vivid still and turn black and white outlines into a magnificent work of art. Speed is one of the nation’s greatest cartographers and modern facsimiles of his work are popular to buy in order to frame and put on walls.
The beautiful book was prudently purchased in 1949 for £250, and now the widow of the buyer has decided to sell it, record-breaking £100,000 in an auction.
Here are some pictures: