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SPEED, John (1552-1629). The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine: Presenting an exact geography of the Kingdome of England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Isles adioyning. London: for George Humble at the Whit Horse in Popes Alley, 1650 - [1653]. [with]: A Prospect of The Most Famous Parts of the World. London: John Legatt for William Humble and are to be sold at his shop in Popes-Head Palace, 1646.

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SPEED, John (1552-1629). The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine: Presenting an exact geography of the Kingdome of England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Isles adioyning. London: for George Humble at the Whit Horse in Popes Alley, 1650 - [1653]. [with]: A Prospect of The Most Famous Parts of the World. London: John Legatt for William Humble and are to be sold at his shop in Popes-Head Palace, 1646.

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SPEED, John (1552-1629). The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine: Presenting an exact geography of the Kingdome of England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Isles adioyning. London: for George Humble at the Whit Horse in Popes Alley, 1650 - [1653]. [with]: A Prospect of The Most Famous Parts of the World. London: John Legatt for William Humble and are to be sold at his shop in Popes-Head Palace, 1646. 5 parts in one volume, 2° (422 x 303mm). Mounted on guards throughout. The Theatre with engraved general title set in architectural and allegorical surround, 3 letterpress section titles, full-page engraving of Royal arms, 68 double-page engraved maps, including an additional map showing the Civil Wars fought in England, Wales & Ireland bound in before the map of Great Britain. The Prospect bound before the Theatre, comprising engraved portrait of John Speed, letterpress title and 21 double-page engraved maps of the world. (Small areas of damp-staining affecting several maps, small unobtrusive holes affecting 3 maps). Contemporary reversed calf, panelled in gilt, stamped with the Royal arms of Charles I, fleuron cornerpieces, the spine in seven compartments, unlettered (head and foot of spine worn with slight loss, corners rubbed, speckled edges). Provenance: Nicholas Hare of Harpham, Norfolk, recto of the portrait incribed in brown ink, 'Nic: Hare pret 2/l 5/s o/d' THIS 1650-54 EDITION OF SPEED'S THEATRE AND PROSPECT IS ONE OF THE RAREST OF ALL SPEED'S WORKS, UNTIL NOW KNOWN ONLY IN ONE COPY. William Humble took over the George Humble copperplates, publishing an edition of the Theatre in 1646. However between 1650 and 1654 William issued further versions of the atlas, with a succession of amended dates on the map sheets. Skelton's thorough work has identified 5 variant issues with amended dates. This, the final issue is not recorded by either Chubb or Wing and is only known from a copy in the Gardner collection at the Royal Geographical Society. This copy conforms with Skelton 57 and includes the Invasions of England and Ireland map with its text and has a final date of 1654 on the XVII Provinces map. However, in this copy, the maps of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire have been included with blank versos on which John Dawson's letterpress sections of 1627 have been pasted and annotated in manuscript. In addition, the map of Norfolk has the upper left section cut away and separately printed on the plate. The appearance of this extraordinary Speed atlas with the arms of Charles I throws some light on the tumultuous events of the Civil War and the distribution of atlases in Royalist hands. Nicholas Hare, a brother of Sir Ralph Hare of Stow Bardolph, Norfolk, who was MP for Norfolk 1654-58 and 1661-71, lived in Harpham in Norfolk and obviously favoured the Royalist cause. It seems likely that the Royal stamp was available from specific booksellers in London during the early years of the Commonwealth and the existence of only 3 copies of the 1650 edition suggests that it was issued surreptitiously by William Humble. Although his amendment of the Scotland map in 1652 and the erasing of Royal portraits shows some obeyance by William to the new Cromwellian regime. We know that William Humble supported the Royalist cause, and gave funds to Charles II on his restoration to the throne. In 1658-9 William Garrett purchased William Humble's rights to Speed's works (the Theatre, Prospect and History). He resold them almost immediately to Roger Rea the Elder who republished the work from 1665 onwards. Not in Chubb or Wing; Skelton 57.
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