John Speed; 1552 - 1629.
Speed followed in the footsteps of his father and took over
his tailor practice in London.
Married, with eighteen children, he was always fascinated
by history and geography and was an amateur map maker.
He turned his attention to professional cartography in the
early 1600's. On the basis of the works of Sexton and Norden,
he produced in 1610 the "Theater of the empire of great Britaine".
In 1627 he attained fame when publishing the first atlas ever
made by an Englishman: "A prospect of the most famous parts
of the world". The maps were engraved in Amsterdam by Jodocus
Hondius (or by Pieter van den Keere for the miniature version),
and printed in London by George Humble. Further issues were
published by successive printers till 1695 (some maps being
recycled in other composite atlases till 1770!)
The Kingdome of China..
This large (20 1/16' X 15 7/16") was originally designed
in 1626 as shown in the cartouche, and was first issued in
The present item was printed for the 1631 issue of "Prospect".
This magnificent "carte à figures" has three decorated borders:
- top: two vignettes showing chinese sail carts and the crucifixion
of a condemned man, two bird eye views showing the trading
towns of Macao and Qingdao in Shandong province (strongly
inspired by the engravings of Theodore de Bry in his 1598
- sides: eight natives counting four chinese civilians, two
japanese samurais, and a couple from the Siam area.
Notice that Japan has only three main islands instead of four,
Korea is an island, Taiwan is a group of three islands, .and
the poor rendition of mountain ranges, fantasy lakes and interconnecting
rivers demonstrating the great ignorance of the European for
the inland geography.
Notice also the flood lake where only one child survived sitting
on a floating tree trunk.
But the most fascinating details are in the write ups, one
alluding to mirages (affecting Belgians?) in the Gobi desert,
and another describing an asbestos mine (.ye clothe thereof
being cast into ye fire is not burned).
English text on verso.