"Carta Particolare del Mare di Ethiopia con l'Isola di S. Elena e Parte della Costa… d'Affrica Carta VIIII", Dudley, Robert (Sir)
Subject: South Atlantic and Southern Africa
Period: 1646 (circa)
Publication: Arcano Del Mare
Color: Black & White
30.3 x 19.3 inches
77 x 49 cm
This elegant sea chart is crisply engraved in the sparse Florentine style with superb calligraphy throughout. The map covers the islands in the South Atlantic centering on St. Helena and extending west to Ascension Island. The map extends to include two stretches of the African coastline, including portions of present-day Congo, Angola and Namibia. Sailing ships, a compass rose and a strapwork title cartouche embellish the chart. Short navigational notes are included throughout. This is the first state. Printed on two sheets, joined as issued.
Robert Dudley was the first Englishman to produce a sea atlas, Dell Arcano del Mare (Secrets of the Sea). A skilled mathematician and navigator, Dudley was exiled from England and settled in Florence where his atlas was published. He introduced a totally new style for sea charts in the atlas with only lines of latitude and longitude and no rhumb lines. The charts were meticulously compiled from original sources and were both scientific and accurate for the time. This important atlas was the first sea atlas of the whole world; the first to use Mercator's projection throughout; the earliest to show the prevailing winds, currents and magnetic deviation; and the first to expound the advantages of Great Circle Sailing. In an introductory leaf found in one copy in the British Library, the engraver states that he worked on the plates in seclusion for twelve years in an obscure Tuscan village, using no less than 5,000 pounds of copper for the printing plates. It was only issued in two editions and the maps are rarely seen on the market.
References: Shirley (BL Atlases) M.DUD-1a #82.
A nice dark impression with light printer's ink residue on bright, watermarked paper. A very fine example with just a touch of marginal soiling.