Speculum Britanniae. The first parte, An historicall & chorographicall discription of Middlesex,

[London, Printed at Eliot’s Court Press], 1593.


FIRST EDITION. pp. [viii], 48, [iv]. [A]⁴ B-G⁴ H². (lacking H2, final leaf with commendatory verses, text complete) Roman and Italic letter, three double page engraved maps, engraved architectural title by Pieter van den Keere, with figures at sides with surveying instruments, royal arms above, dedication to Elizabeth I with her full-page engraved arms on verso, woodcut armorial illustrations, historiated woodcut initials, typographical ornaments, early manuscript annotations, mostly faded but those on verso of engraved title with some show-through, library stamp of the ‘Lawes Agricultural Trust’ on pastedown. Light age yellowing, a little minor marginal dust soiling, the occasional spot, map of Middlesex with small ink stain. A good copy in modern calf, covers double blind ruled to a panel design, spine with two raised bands, morocco label gilt in long. 

First edition of this very rare work unusually complete with three most important engraved maps and plans of London, Middlesex and Westminster. The map depicts Middlesex, and the two plans show London and Westminster, the former within a border of coats-of-arms of the great twelve Livery Companies. “The map (of London)is flanked by the arms of the twelve great livery companies and features title at the top with royal and city arms. The scale bar is at top right and a key to inns, churches, halls and other prominent places feature in a panel below the plan. The map was intended for countrymen visiting the city and was reissued in 1623 and 1653 with enlarged tables of reference.” BL Nordens work was innovative as it was based entirely upon his own surveying and not on previous maps. “Saxton’s younger contemporary, John Norden, is known for his panorama of London.. He was a surveyor by trade and his Speculum Britanniae of 1593 includes important maps of Middlesex and useful plans of the cites of Westminster and London. These are original works – not based on earlier maps – and invaluable for understanding the topography of Elizabethan England. .. Norden’s engraver was was Pieter van der Keere. In Norden’s Speculum Britanniae a marginal index with a key of letters and numbers is used for the first time in an English Map. This innovation makes sense in a work like the Speculum which is not a Grand Atlas, but more of a guide book, complete with foldout maps and information pertinent to the traveller to London, such as a summary of the city’s history, a list of parishes, descriptions of noteworthy landmarks, and praise of its merits as a city “most sweetly scituate upon the Thamis”” Valerie Hotchkiss, ‘English in Print from Caxton to Shakespeare to Milton.’ “John Norden (1548—1625?), English topographer, was the first Englishman who designed a complete series of county histories and geographies. His earliest known work of importance was the Speculum Britanniae, first part .. Middlesex (1593); the MS. of this in the British Museum (Harl. 570) has corrections, &c., in Lord Burleigh’s handwriting. In 1595 he wrote a Chorographical Description of .. Middlesex, Essex, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, Wight, Guernsey and Jersey, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth; the MS. of this is in the British Museum, Addit. MSS. Norden’s maps of London and Westminster (in his Speculum Britanniae of 1593) are the best representations known of the English metropolis under the Tudors; his maps of Middlesex (also from the Spec. Brit. of 1593), of Essex (1594, 1840), of Hertfordshire (1598, 1723) and of Cornwall are also noteworthy; in the last-named the roads are indicated for the first time in English topography.” Encyclopaedia Britannica .

The maps are well preserved and in particularly good impressions. 

ESTC S113229. STC 18635. Howgego 5.1.


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