Catalog Archive
Auction 187, Lot 50

Flamsteed's Reduced-Size Atlas with 30 Celestial Plates

"Atlas Celeste de Flamsteed, Publie en 1776 ... Troisieme Edition...", Flamsteed/Fortin

Subject: Celestial Atlas

Period: 1795 (published)


Color: Black & White

6 x 8.9 inches
15.2 x 22.6 cm
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This important and highly desirable celestial atlas was originally produced by John Flamsteed (1646-1719), the first Astronomer Royal of Great Britain, and is complete with 30 of the most accurate and detailed star charts of the time. The original edition, being expensive, unwieldy, and not aesthetically pleasing was reprinted and reduced in size by Jean Fortin in 1795 using Flamsteed's plates from his 1776 edition. This smaller, more affordable issue soon became the standard as numerous improvements were made, including the addition of new constellations and more nebulae. Of the 30 plates, 26 are centered on the major constellations seen from Greenwich. The rest are from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and one shows the alignment of the main northern stars. 8vo. Original hardbound in quarter calf and marbled boards. Title page, ix, table of contents and 47 pp. of text and tables. Black leather label with gilt title on spine. The 1776 edition contained few nebulae (following the Flamsteed tradition), but in this edition many of the Messier objects, as well as several new constellations, have been added. The period between 1776 and 1790 had seen the invention of 5 new constellations, several honoring political patrons, and two in honor of William Herschel, the discoverer of Uranus, and this edition contains all of them. If we compare the plate of the Orion/Taurus region with the corresponding plate in the 1776 atlas, we see that the "Harp of George" has been inserted beneath Taurus, and the "Telescope of Herschel" has been added between Orion's head and the horns of the Bull.

References: Warner, pp. 84-85.

Condition: A

The plates have dark impressions and are exceptionally clean and bright. There is a tiny pair of worm tracks along the centerfold in the bottom blank margin on nearly all the plates. A few plates have light extraneous creasing in the top corner. The plates were not well glued to the guards so plate 17 is completely detached and several other plates are nearly detached or partially separated from the guards. The text is also clean and bright. The covers are heavily rubbed and the spine shows light wear.

Estimate: $3,500 - $4,500

Sold for: $1,900

Closed on 4/27/2022