Catalog Archive
Auction 157, Lot 70

Speed's Popular Carte-a-Figures Map of the Americas

"America with Those Known Parts in That Unknowne Worlde Both People and Manner of Buildings Discribed and Inlarged", Speed, John

Subject: Western Hemisphere - America

Period: 1626 (dated)

Publication: A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World

Color: Hand Color

20 x 15.4 inches
50.8 x 39.1 cm
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This English map of the Americas is the earliest folio atlas map to depict California as an island, thus propagating one of the most enduring cartographic myths. It is also significant for its accurate depiction of the coast between Chesapeake and Cape Cod, and early portrayal of the English colonies, Iames Citti (Jamestown) and Plymouth. Boston and Long Island are not shown. The spurious islands of Brasil and Frisland still appear in the Atlantic. An inset map shows Greenland and Iceland. The map is the superb workmanship of the Dutch engraver, Abraham Goos. It is decorated in the popular carte-a-figures style with panels of costumed native figures at each side and vignettes of major cities at top. The figures at left represent the native people of North America, and at right the major South American tribes. The cities illustrated include Havana, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Cusco, and other important South American settlements. A number of sea monsters, flying fish and sailing ships also decorate the map. Dated in the cartouche 1626, published between 1627-32 with the imprint of George Humble in the cartouche below title. English text on verso with text now mentioning Maryland, New York, Hochelaga, Quebec and Tadusac.

References: Burden #217; McLaughlin #3; Tooley (Amer) p. 113, #5; Shirley (BL Atlases) T.SPE-2f.

Condition: B

A dark impression on paper with a bunch of grapes watermark. There is light soiling and toning, several extraneous creases adjacent to centerfold, and an archivally repaired centerfold separation that enters 1" into map at bottom. Professionally remargined at top with a portion of neatline replaced in facsimile. There are small remnants of non-archival tape along the edges of the sheet on verso.

Estimate: $4,500 - $5,500


Closed on 5/4/2016