Catalog Archive
Auction 125, Lot 76

"Tab. XXIX [Constellation of Scorpius]", Bevis, John

Subject: Celestial

Period: 1749 (circa)

Publication: Uranographica Britannica (Atlas Celeste)

Color: Hand Color

14.8 x 12.3 inches
37.6 x 31.2 cm
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An extremely scarce star chart of Scorpius by Dr. John Bevis (1695-1771). Bevis was a successful physician with an interest in optics and lenses that became a full-fledged occupation. He was the original discoverer of the Crab Nebula M1, 27 years before it was listed by Charles Messier, and nebulae were depicted for the first time in Bevis' atlas. In 1746, Bevis began compiling a star atlas based on those of Johann Bayer and John Flamsteed, with financial backing from John Neale. They dedicated plates to individuals who had provided financial backing for the atlas; this plate is dedicated to James Stephens, MD. Unfortunately for Bevis, Neale became bankrupt in 1749 and the copper plates were taken and destroyed, although some of the charts were already printed. No formal editions of the Uranographica Brittanica exist, but a few nearly complete sets were compiled. In 1786, bound sets of Bevis star charts were sold anonymously under the name Atlas Celeste, assembled from individual charts from an auction of Bevis' estate in 1785. Bevis had passed away in 1771, after toppling from his telescope while measuring the meridian altitude of the sun. The charts are thus very uncommon, with only one example to be seen in 25 years of price records.

References: Kanas, pp. 160-62; Warner, pp. 22-23.

Condition: A

Nice impression on a sheet with wide original margins. There are a couple short marginal tears, all far from the image.

Estimate: $1,000 - $1,500

Sold for: $750

Closed on 9/24/2008