Auction 129, Lot 3

"[Lot of 2 - Title Page and Frontispiece] The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine…", Speed, John

Subject: Title Pages

Period: 1627 (dated)


Color: Black & White

9.5 x 15 inches
24.1 x 38.1 cm

Speed's title page is an elaboration of the architectural framework used by Abraham Ortelius in the Theatrum. The superstructure of pillars, pedestals and columns is intricately decorated with cupids' heads, grotesques, herms, putti and other figures. The dominant figure above the title is an indigenous Briton taken from an engraving of a Pict by John White and first published by Theodor de Bry in 1590. The four other figures in the niches represent the conquerors of Great Britain - Roman, Saxon, Danish, and Norman. Vignettes of the City of London and a ship are on the foundation along with the publisher's imprint. According to Shirley, this sheet may have been engraved by Renold Elstack due to stylistic similarities to other works he engraved for Speed. However the accompanying heraldic frontispiece is signed by Jodocus Hondius, who engraved many of the maps in the atlas. The royal coat of arms of James I fills the center of this elaborate sheet. The thirty-eight smaller heraldic shields forming the border denote all the associated kings of the ancient realm. The table of contents is printed on the verso of the frontispiece.

References: Shirley (TP) #32 & 33.

Condition: B+

Lightly toned with some minor damp stains at bottom

Estimate: $450 - $550

Sold for: $600

Closed on 9/23/2009