Seller’s extremely rare work on Navigation

By SELLER, John, 1680 

Practical Navigation; or An Introduction to the Whole Art Practical Navigation; or, An introduction to the Whole Art. Containing the doctrine of plain and spherical triangles. Plain, Mercator, Great-Circle-Sailing; and Astronomical Problems. The use of divers Instruments… The seventh edition, carefully Corrected.

Maritime & Military
  • Author: SELLER, John
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: printed by J. D[arby], for the Author at the Hermitage in Wapping and Richard Mount at the Postern on Tower-Hill
  • Publication date: 1694.
  • Physical description: Small 4to., (185 by 140mm), engraved title, pasted to free endpaper, eight fold-out plates in woodcut, numerous illustrations in the text, engraved and in woodcut, loos to top of title page and imprint, a few plates evenly age-toned, later full calf, spine in six compartments separated by raised bands, gilt.Collation: [8], 324, 329, p. 334., 341–348, 353–355, [148] p., [8] leaves of plates : ill., tables.
  • Inventory reference: 11998


John Seller (c. 1632–1697) was a Wapping-based maker of navigational instruments, chart and map seller, and reknowned to have taken away the Dutch dominance of producing navigational maps and charts. He wrote several textbooks, including the popular Practical Navigation [the present work], outlining the mathematical basis of navigation through worked examples. Within the limits of contemporary practice his description of the various instruments and their use at sea is of exemplary clarity’ (Laurence Worms in ODNB).

The work first published by Seller in 1669, established a creditable reputation [him] in the maritime community. The book was frequently reprinted over the years and, indeed, some thirty years later it was described as the most useful book for Seamen yet extant’ ” (Davis & Daniel). In fact the work proved so popular that Seller’s successors Richard Mount and Thomas Page were publishing editions of the work until the mid eighteenth century.

Due to there use at sea all such works are rare, and this is no exception. We are only able to trace ten institutional examples of the present edition. 


  1. ESTC S2483B.

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