America with those parts in that unknowne worlde both people and manner of buildings Discribed and inlarged by J.S. Ano. 1626.

John Speed. "America with those parts in that unknowne worlde both people and manner of buildings Discribed and inlarged by J.S. Ano. 1626." From A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World. London: George Humble, [1626]-1627. First state. 15 1/2 x 20 1/4. Engraving by Abraham Goos. With a few light stains. Otherwise, very good condition. English text on verso. Burden: 217 (1).


The rare first state of one of the most decorative and interesting maps of North and South America from the seventeenth century. It was produced by the English cartographer John Speed (1552-1629). Speed is well known for his county maps of Great Britain, but in his Prospect of the World he issued fine maps of other parts of the globe, many of which were decorated with illustrations of native costumes and principal cities of the areas shown. This map of the western hemisphere is the most famous of this type, with views of eight cities in the Americas, as well as ten depictions of natives from the various regions, including the northern, middle and southern parts of the eastern coast of North America.


These superb decorative and historical vignettes provide a perfect frame for Speed's interesting cartographic rendering of the Americas. Considerable detail is shown in South and Central America and the eastern parts of North America, including indications of the Chesapeake, Delaware and Hudson Bays. Of particular note is the depiction of California as an island. This famous geographical misconception is alleged to have originated from a manuscript map by Father Antonio Ascension, based on his misinterpretation of Juan de la Fuca's and Martin d'Aguilar's reports of their explorations of the California coast. This is the first atlas map upon which this misconception appeared and Speed's depiction of the island was thus a major contributing factor in the longevity of this notorious myth. This error actually remained the standard on most maps until well into the 18th century, and it wasn't until Ferdinand VII's royal decree that California was not an island that the isle image finally disappeared from the cartographic world.


The fascination of this map continues in the southern most part of the hemisphere, where Speed shows the latest information available. Tierra del Fuego is drawn as an island, not as part of the hypothesized southern continent, what Speed calls "The Unknowne World." The final flourishes of the map are the myriad small etched ships, sea monsters and flying fish shown in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Speed's maps were issued uncolored, though most of subsequently been colored by dealers or collectors. This is a rare example of the map as issued, and it is a classic combination of best decorative and historic aspects of antique maps.

Dealer The Philadelphia Print Shop
Date: 1627
Origin London, England
Artist/Maker John Speed
Measurements 15 1/2 x 20 1/4
Inventory View Dealer's Inventory
Price $7,500
Contact Donald H. Cresswell & Jonathan T. Cresswell, 215-242-4750 or

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