Magnificent 17th Century Hand Colored Map of Tartary by John Speede
Very Nice Original 17th Century (1651) Map of Tartary by Acclaimed Royal Cartographer John Speede (1552 – 1629) | Map is beautifully framed under glass | Hand Colored Copper Engraving titled “A Newe Mape of Tartary” housed in a carved wood frame and depicting the land in central Asia formerly known as Tartary. Speede’s map of Tartary, from the first world atlas produced in London, England. Very Nice example of Speed’s map of Tartary, from the first world atlas produced in England. This map sold at auction for $1,749 (Auctionata, Berlin, November 19, 2014). This Map is not a reproduction.
John Speed’s map includes a decorative carte à figures. Side panels depict costume figures, while above are vignettes of the cities of Astrakhan, Samarkand and Cambalu, with an illustration of a “house in Nova Zemla”. The Great Wall of China is clearly seen, and the interior is heavily annotated. Included in the four views at top is a view of Nova Zembla, the winter quarters of Barents, the Dutch explorer who searched for a northern passage between Russia and America. English text on verso provides a 17th Century description of the region.
In his youth John Speede was thought to have “a very rare and ingenious capacity in the drawing and the setting forth of maps”. He compiled his maps individually between 1596 and 1610, and published them in four books known as “the Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain”. It was the first Atlas to encompass all the counties of Britain and became the best known collection of English county maps.
John Speede was the son of a tailor, born in about 1552 in Cheshire. Like his father, he became a Freeman of Merchant Taylor’s Company, but devoted most of his leisure time to map making. In 1598 he found a wealthy patron, Sir Fulke Greville, who secured him a post in Her Majesty’s Customs where, with Queen Elizabeth’s support, he continued his map making.
The inclusion of Royal portraits and battle sites elevated his craft to an elaborate work of art. As Samuel Pepys remarked in 1662: “When searching the Forest of Dean for sources of timber to build ships for the Navy, Speede’s maps there showed me how it lies”.
To own a John Speede map, is to own a part of history.
Engraving, Hand Embellished