Rare Speed Overton Atlas in original outline colour
By SPEED, John , 1743

England Fully Described in a Compleat Sett of Mapp's of ye County's of England and Wales with their Islands, Containing in all 58 Mapps by John Speed Reprinted 1743.

  • Author: SPEED, John
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Printed & Sold by Henry Overton, at ye white Horse without Newgate
  • Publication date: 1743.
  • Physical description: Folio (415 by 280mm), engraved title, and 64 engraved maps and plans, original outline hand-colour, nine maps with loss to within the right neatline, skilfully repaired in facsimile, the Loggan plates trimmed to just with neatline, full calf, gilt central device to upper and lower board, spine gilt, with red morocco label lettered in gilt.
  • Inventory reference: 2315


Henry Overton, as Hodson convincingly argues, acquired Speed’s plates from Christopher Browne in 1713. Hodson records four variants of the Speed Overton Atlas (I-IV). The first was printed very soon after he had acquired the plates, with the others dated to post-1716 (atlas – II), circa 1720 (atlas – III), and 1743 (atlas – IV).

The present atlas is a fine example of the 1743 edition. Many of the maps have been retouch with just under a half being revised from the prevision edition. The most common revision is the deletion of ‘give-away’ dates, most often the original publication dater of 1610. However, a lack of discrimination was shown and some dates of battles upon the maps have also been erased. One must note with interest upon the present example several manuscript annotations, putting back the dates that Overton went to great lengths to omit. The most striking example of this is upon the map of Huntingdonshire; the newly engraved date of 1738 has been crossed out with the former date of 1662 written next to it.

The atlas also contains Speed’s Invasion map of England and Ireland; his general map of the British Isles; David Loggan’s plans of Oxford and Cambridge – all of which bear Overton’s imprint; together with Overton’s ‘A New Map of the Roads of South Britain’; and his ‘A New and Exact Map of Great Britannie’.

Of the additional maps the two by Overton are particularly rare. His ‘A New Map of the Roads’ – a schematic map of the roads of England and Wales – is a later unrecorded state of John Overton’s ‘A New Mpp [sic] of ye Rodes of England… c.1685’ (Shirley British Isles 2). His ‘A New and Exact Map of Great Britannie…’ (Shirley Overton 1) was first published by John Overton in 1667, with the engraving of the map being attributed to the great Wenceslaus Hollar. The map bears inset plans of York, Edinburgh, Dublin, Oxford, Cambridge, London before the Fire, and a dramatic prospect of the city during the Great Fire. The present example is the third state and bears the imprint of Henry Overton.

Rare Hodson only records two complete examples of the atlas: The Cambridge University Library; and the C.A. Burden Collection; the example in the British Library lacks the title-page; and the Sheffield Reference Library lacks maps of Cornwall, Hampshire, Middlesex, Sussex, Yorkshire, and Wales.


  1. Hodson 138
  2. Shirley British Isles Overton 1 state 3
  3. Shirley British Library SPE-1n.
  4. c.f. Shirley Overton 2 for earlier state

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