THE EARLIEST ATLAS OF THE BRITISH ISLES AD THE EARLIEST WORLD ATLAS BY AN ENGLISHMAN. FIRST EDITION of "The Theatre"; (1611) bound with the second edition (1631) of the "Prospect"
"The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine... was the earliest English attempt at producing an atlas on a grand scale, with the first detailed maps of the provinces of Ireland, the first set of county maps consistently attempting to show the boundaries of territorial divisions, and the first truly comprehensive set of English town plans—a notable contribution to British topography. Perhaps as many as fifty of the seventy-three towns had not previously been mapped, and about fifty-one of the plans were probably Speed's own work... A balance is struck between the modern and historical, with information placed on the edges of the maps about antiquarian remains, and sites and vignettes of famous battles, together with arms of princes and nobles. This additional information is one of the Theatre's most significant contributions" (Dictionary of National Biography).
The "Theatre" is complete with engraved architectural title, engraved Royal Achievements by Jodocus Hondius dated 1611, letterpress list of kingdoms and woodcut royal arms, three letterpress section titles with woodcut borders, three woodcut royal arms, 67 double-page engraved maps, most by Jodocus Hondius, woodcut head- and tail-pieces and initials, mounted on guards throughout.
The "Prospect" was intended as a supplement to the "Theatre" and includes 22 maps of different parts of the world, including the famous world map, presumably by Abraham Goos, and the map of America, both showing California as an island. With engraved portrait frontispiece (bound before “Theatre”). NOTE: The “Prospect” is lacking “Invasions” (but with 'Canaan' bound in its place) and lacking the final text leaf on 'Civill Warres'. Also with portrait trimmed to platemark and laid down.
Provenance: J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville Kentucky (bookplate). London: John Sudbury & George Humble; John Dawson for George Humble, 1611; 1631. Folio (414x287mm), 19th-century full calf with elaborately gilt-decorated spine. Joints repaired, small chip to label. Some offsetting (including on the world map), some marginal repaired closed tears, some maps closely cropped. Most maps, including the world map, with good, strong impressions.
Price: $95,000 .