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This is one of a set of copper printing plates that were used to produce a very detailed map of London – the earliest view of the city known. No printed version of the map has survived and only three plates, from an original set of 15, have been discovered. This plate shows the eastern side of the City of London. Various London streets can be seen, such as Cornhill and Gracechurch Street. As well as all the houses, streets, gardens and churches, you can see other details of daily life such as the water conduit at Cornhill. This was a public water pump or well where people would collect water everyday for use at home. If you had enough money, you could pay water bearers to provide you with water – you can see their tankards lined up by the well. They would walk round from house to house selling water everyday. Eventually the worn printing plates were sold to artists so that the reverse sides could be used for oil paintings. The painting on the reverse of this plate depicts the assumption and coronation of the Virgin Mary. There are two plates in the Museum of London collection (the other is 62.75) and a third in a German museum (showing the area around St Paul’s Cathedral). It is not known who commissioned the map but the plates were probably engraved in the Netherlands between 1553 and 1559.
The Museum acknowledges the financial assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and the MGC/V&A Purchase Grant Fund.
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