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Maps of the United Kingdom

Many fine maps of Britain and its territories were made by British and other European cartographers by the 17th century. The maps of John Speed are some of the most renowned. Speed began working for the royal customs office under Elizabeth I in 1598. Speed drew up a series of detailed county maps of England and Wales to be included in his atlas "Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain." Master cartographer Gerard Mercator created a map of Ireland in 1606 which featured towns, rivers, lakes, forests and mountains. In 1552, Sebastian Munster used woodblock printing to scale London’s streets. Munster’s map of London shows ships in the Thames River and nobles in the foreground.

A 1650 map of the British Isles by Pierre Mariette and Nicolas Sanson represents England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland with the Orkney Islands added. Cities and topographical distinctions are rendered in profile while a sea monster lurks in the water. Royal hydrographer John Seller created an interesting book of charts mapping the coast in 1698. "Atlas Maritimus" includes a colorful map of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. In the upper left quadrant, Neptune carries the British flag.

Pocket maps became a popular navigational device, helping people get from one place to another beginning in Elizabethan times. Although they could be bought for a few shillings, pocket maps contained fine engravings, tables which described walking distances between towns, and directions to market towns. Pocket maps could be bound with the buyer’s choice of poems, newspaper, or other documents.


Quick Facts

  • "The Kingdom of Scotland, The Kingdom of Ireland" by Pieter van den Keere and John Speed sold for more than $844 at a Lyon and Turnbull auction in 2016
  • Willem and Jan Blaeu’s 1662 atlas containing 49 maps of Scotland, missing the six maps of Ireland, sold for more than $5,628 at Lyon and Turnbull in 2014
  • "An Exact Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster" from 1746 by John Roque sold for $22,778 at Sotheby’s in 2015

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Sellers Who Sell Maps of the United Kingdom


Dominic Winter Auctions

Dominic Winter Auctions

Burgersdijk & Niermans

Burgersdijk & Niermans

Chiswick Auctions

Chiswick Auctions

Forum Auctions - UK

Forum Auctions - UK