Catalog Archive
Auction 114, Lot 344

"A General Chart of the West India's", Seller, John

Subject: Atlantic Ocean

Period: 1675 (circa)

Publication: Atlas Maritimus

Color: Hand Color

20.8 x 16.8 inches
52.8 x 42.7 cm
Download High Resolution Image
(or just click on image to launch the Zoom viewer)

This is a scarce and most unusual chart covering most of the Atlantic Ocean rather than the West Indies as indicated in the title. Place names are located along all the coasts of North and South America, Europe and Africa. The tip of South America is enclosed in an inset placed in the interior. The title cartouche, which fills the interior of Africa, credits not only John Seller but also John Colson, William Fisher, James Atkinson & John Thornton. The title is engraved onto the blanket of a fabulous elephant that is bearing a litter filled with archers. The composition is completed with a partial compass rose filling the interior of North America.

John Seller was a pioneering British publisher of nautical charts and one of the most important figures in the early history of British cartography. Seller's shop, located near the Tower of London in Wapping, became a gathering place for seamen arriving with the latest news of distant places such as the West Indies and provided Seller with information critical to his nautical chart business. In addition to sea charts he produced a vast array of cartographic material, the first to rival the large Dutch firms such as Blaeu and Jansson. Seller was appointed Royal Hydrographer by Charles II in 1671, and also served under James II and William III. Unfortunately his business was built on a shaky foundation and though he made several attempts to avoid bankruptcy including a consortium partnership with other cartographers such as William Fisher and John Thornton, he was ultimately unsuccessful.


Condition: B

Bit of minor surface soil and minor creasing. Margins trimmed but still adequate for framing. Repair on bottom centerfold, which could be improved.

Estimate: $1,500 - $1,800

Sold for: $3,000

Closed on 3/1/2006