Auction 170, Lot 58

An Early American Celestial Atlas

"Astronomical Recreations: or Sketches of the Relative Position and Mythological History of the Constellations", Finley, Anthony

Subject: Celestial Atlas

Period: 1824 (published)


Color: Hand Color

8.8 x 11 inches
22.4 x 27.9 cm

Finely's maps employ a delicate and elegant engraving style and provided extensive topographical and watershed information. He was the dominant map maker in the United States in the early 1820s into the 1830s. His atlases were very successful, outselling rival atlases by Carey & Lea, and Tanner. His maps were printed on high quality paper and were routinely corrected and updated.

According to the David Rumsey Map Collection, this is likely the first American celestial atlas. It was issued in the same year as Finley's first terrestrial atlas and was possibly intended to accompany it. The 117 page volume, written by Jacob Green, contains a total of 19 plates (18 in color) which were designed to "enable those who are desirous of acquiring a knowledge of the name, the position, and the classical history of the Stars, to do it without the use of the celestial globe, or a reference to the numerous volumes of Heathen Mythology." The attractive plates are reduced from the work of Johann Bode, a self-taught astronomer who served as director of the astronomical observatory of the Berlin Academy of Science for nearly 40 years. Each of the plates is accompanied by several pages of explanatory text and are organized in the following manner: constellations to the north of the zodiac (8), at the zodiac (6), and south of the zodiac (5). Includes a dedication page to James Stevenson, Mayor of Albany. Quarto, hardbound in original black quarter leather with tips over pink paper boards with paper title label on the front cover.

References: Rumsey #2890; cf. Kanas, pp. 176-77, 179-84.

Condition: A

Condition code is for the contents, which are remarkably clean and bright. There is an occasional spot of foxing, and a few of the plates have some offsetting from opposing pages of text, but otherwise fine. The hinges are starting, and the covers have average wear and surface soiling.

Estimate: $1,600 - $2,000

Sold for: $1,100

Closed on 11/14/2018