Cambridge University Library has one of five known sets of proof maps prepared for John Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (Atlas.2.61.1), which was published in 1611/12.
The maps were printed from copper plates which had been engraved, in reverse, by Jodocus Hondius in his workshop in Amsterdam. Maps printed from the plates - proofs - would have been sent back to England for checking.
The maps in Cambridge University Library's set of proofs are in a late state of preparation, but many were altered before being published. The map of Cheshire, which had been produced as early as 1603 by English engraver William Rogers, was completely replaced for publication and only two copies of the proof map of Cheshire are known to exist.
All 66 maps are now viewable in the Cambridge Digital Library
Images are available for download for non-comercial purposes (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-NC 3.0))
For more information on John Speed's proof map see the blogs:
- Speed maps now in the Cambridge Digital Library (23 March 2015)
- A Theatre of Treasures (11 October 2016)
The following articles on John Speed from the MapForum website may also be of interest:
And on Map Printing: http://www.mapforum.com/05/may.htm or http://www.baynton-williams.com/Printing-Techniques.htm
Image credit: extract of Ely from Speed's Huntingdonshire Atlas.2.61.1