Catalog Archive
Auction 178, Lot 554

"[Lot of 2 - Title Page & Frontispiece] Theatrum Imperii Magnae Britanniae…", Speed, John

Subject: Frontispiece & Title Page

Period: 1616 (published)


Color: Black & White

9.6 x 14.9 inches
24.4 x 37.8 cm
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Speed's ornate title page elaborates on the architectural framework used by Abraham Ortelius in the Theatrum with its intricately decorated superstructure of pillars, pedestals, and columns. In the alcove above the title is an indigenous Briton taken from an engraving of a Pict by John White that was 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 London and a ship are located on the foundation along with the publisher's imprint. Also included is the frontispiece to Speed's final edition of The Theatre of the Empire..., published by Thomas Bassett and Richard Chiswell and engraved by Robert White. The royal coat of arms of Charles II fills the center of this elaborate sheet. The numerous smaller heraldic shields forming the border denote all the associated kings of the ancient realm. This example is from Jodocus Hondius' Latin version of 1616. Sizes vary slightly.

References: Shirley (BL Atlases) T.SPE-1b; cf. Shirley (TP) #32 & 33.


Both are sharp impressions. The title page is in B condition with light soiling and an old paper repair on recto and verso in the top right corner with some associated stains. The frontispiece is in A condition with minor soiling. Remnants of hinge tape on verso.

Estimate: $500 - $650

Sold for: $250

Closed on 6/10/2020