Seller’s Pilot for the Southern and Mediterranean navigations

By SELLER, John, 1711 
£6,500

[English Pilot the First Book; together with] English Pilot the Third Book…

  • Author: SELLER, John
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Richard Mount & Thomas Page
  • Publication date: 1711.
  • Physical description: Folio (480 by 300mm), two works in one volume, lacking title-page, 88pp., 29 double-page engraved charts; [together with] title, 92pp., 22 engraved charts (mostly double-page, 6 within text), several charts and text with water-staining and worming, chart of Scotland with original full mottled calf, worn and rubbed.
  • Inventory reference: 11261

Notes

Mount and Page editions of John Seller’s pilots of the Southern and Mediterranean navigations.

John Seller (1630–1697) was one of the most important individuals in the early history of the atlas trade in England, yet his grand ambition – to rival the great atlas publishing houses of Blaeu, Janssonius, and Goos – would lead to bankruptcy and eventual failure.

Before entering the atlas market, Seller traded in nautical instruments from his shop at the Sign of the Mariner’s Compass’ in Wapping – at the time the heart of the maritime trade. In 1669 he published Paxis Nautica: Practical Navigation’, which established his credentials within the maritime community. His place was further strengthened when, in 1671, he was appointed hydrographer to Charles II.

That same year, Seller published his first sea atlas, the English Pilot: The First Book’, covering the northern navigation. In the following few years, Seller would go on to publish the second, third, and fourth books of the English Pilot’, covering the Southern, Northern, Mediterrarnean, and North American navigations; a Coasting Pilot’ detailing the coasts of Britain and the Low Countries; and a sea atlas, the Atlas Maritimus’. Although much of their contents were taken from Dutch works by the likes of Goos, Blaeu, and Janssonius, one has to admire Seller’s sheer industry. This industry, however, was not allied with enough business acumen, and by 1677 a consortium of map publishers – most notably William Fisher and John Thornton – had taken over his business. It would seem that the terms of the rescue were quite harsh, as when the consortium broke up in 1679, Fisher kept the publication rights to the Atlas Maritimus’ and the English Pilot the Southern Navigation’, and Thornton received some of Seller’s plates.

By the early 1700s the plates and text of Seller’s various English Pilots had been acquired by the firm of Richard Mount and Thomas Page, who reissued the pilots, with little (and sometimes no revision) until the end of the century. The present pilots are early editions, with the Mediterranean pilot published in 1711. It is not uncommon for two pilots to be bound in one volume — and the present work was evidently used by ships trading from London to the ports in the Mediterranean. 

Bibliography

  1. c.f. Shirley, Atlases, M.M&P‑1b — for 1702 ed. containing 31 charts
  2. M.M&P‑3a — for 1703 ed. — containing 23 charts
  3. NMM 423 (1701 ed.)
  4. NMM 425 (1716 ed.).
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