Rare 17th century maps find their way ‘home’ to Bermuda

Hamilton, Bermuda, 8 March, 2011 – Specialist insurer Hiscox has acquired two rare 17th century maps of Bermuda. The Blaeu and Speed maps, produced in 1650 and 1676 respectively, both show the early division by the European colonists of Bermuda into its administrative areas, or ‘tribes’, and are believed to be among only a small number of original Bermuda maps remaining from that period.*

Few of these maps would have ever made it onto the island in the first place having been produced for the benefit of shareholders in England. The Speed map first appeared in the first ever atlas by an Englishman, ‘A Prospect of the Most Famous Parts of the World’, in 1627, with the Hiscox example coming from the last edition published in 1676. The Blaeu map features original colouring done by Blaeu at the time the map was printed.

John Speed and Joan Blaeu based their maps on a lost map of the island created by Richard Norwood who originally went out to Bermuda in search of pearls but finding none to be found, took up employment by the Somers Isles Company to survey the island.**

Commenting on the acquisition of the maps, Charles Dupplin, CEO of Hiscox Bermuda, said: “Very few of these original maps exist today and we are delighted to be bringing these two very fine examples ‘home’ to Bermuda. In collecting terms they are exciting as they are both in such pristine original condition. The irony of course is that had they been brought to Bermuda in the 17th century it is highly unlikely that they would have survived given the extreme humidity and sunlight.***

“These two very special maps will join other Bermudian artwork here in our office which includes a very strong selection on loan from the Masterwork’s collection. We are delighted to welcome two such iconic pieces of Bermuda’s rich history.”

Both maps were supplied by The Map House, London's oldest specialist antiquarian map seller (themaphouse.com).

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*Hi-res images of both maps are available on request.
** Richard Norwood’s map of Bermuda, through John Speed, remained the fundamental map for the island for over a century and remains as the basis of all land tenure in Bermuda to the present day.
*** Glazing technology in the 17th century was not advanced enough to enable the proper framing and protection of the maps if removed from their atlas.

For further information please contact:

Kylie O’Connor +44 (0)20 7448 6656 [email protected]
Paper Plane    
Sebastian St. John-Clarke +44(0)8456 521937 [email protected]

Notes to editors

About Hiscox

Hiscox, the international specialist insurer, is headquartered in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX). There are three main underwriting parts of the Group - Hiscox London Market, Hiscox UK and Europe and Hiscox International. Hiscox London Market underwrites internationally traded business in the London Market - generally large or complex business which needs to be shared with other insurers or needs the international licences of Lloyd's. Hiscox UK and Hiscox Europe offer a range of specialist insurance for professionals and business customers, as well as high net worth individuals. Hiscox International includes operations in Bermuda, Guernsey and USA. Hiscox Insurance Company Limited, Hiscox Underwriting Limited, Hiscox Europe Underwriting Limited and Hiscox Syndicates Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

For further information, visit www.hiscox.com.

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