A note on featured
cartographers
The Mapping of Africa
It is easy to forget that until well into the 19th century, with the exception of a coastal band
wider in some areas than in others, the vast bulk of the African continent south of the
Sahara was terra incognito to Europeans.  What little was known of this territory, which
through a combination of disease and physical obstacles appeared impenetrable, emanated
from ancient Graeco-Roman or Arab sources.  Little or no contemporary evidence was
available to substantiate this fragmentary information handed down over many centuries.

Prior to the French cartographer D’Anville (1697-1782) injecting a stiff dose of empiricism
into geographical science, most cartographers permitted an element of imagination to creep
into what, in the absence of observed evidence, would otherwise have been blank spaces on
their maps of the continent.  The interior was not quite a tabula rasa, as nearly all adhered to
the inherited classical tradition which by and large, governed the location of major physical
features.  This tradition - subject to imaginative amendment - was only gradually eroded as
verifiable evidence accumulated from the epics of European inland exploration.  This process
took several hundred years, and whilst it was evolving some extremely interesting, if not
altogether accurate, maps were published.  Making use of many of the historic maps offered
for sale in this catalogue, it is possible to trace the at times tortuous route by which received
and imperfect wisdom was initially embroidered and ultimately replaced by, verifiable and less
poetic evidence.

The period during which most of these maps and prints were produced coincided with the
perpetration of the degradations of the transatlantic trade in slaves.  The forts erected along
the West African littoral depicted in the Johannes Kip engravings featured here, were, in
many cases, originally established as trading posts for gold and ivory in the early 16th
century, usually by the Portuguese.  Over the next two centuries other powers; the English,
Dutch, Danes and Swedes either established their own forts or captured them from each
other.  As the 18th century progressed, the torrent of gold and ivory that had driven the
development of trade along the coast slowed to a pitiful trickle.  This was replaced by the
trade in slaves.  The forts with their cellars and dungeons were turned into hellish
barracoons in which the endless coffles of captured and abducted souls, cruelly plucked from
the interior of the vast continent, were incarcerated prior to embarking on the 'slavers' that
plied the coasts.  But the writ of the Europeans occupying the forts rarely ran more than a
kilometre or two beyond the ramparts.  It certainly never extended inland - so during three
centuries of European occupancy there was no extension of geographical knowledge of the
interior of the continent from this quarter.  This had to wait until the end of the 18th century
and the beginning of the 19th, when various expeditions were despatched to solve the great
riddles of the mighty rivers.    

The Cartographers

Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville 1697 - 1782
This outstanding French cartographer devoted his life to the study of geographical science
and became the most renowned mapmaker in Europe.  He turned away from the
embellishment and outright falsification of the 17th century to develop a style of cartography
rooted firmly in verifiable evidence and astronomical observation.  This empirical approach is
most immediately obvious in his maps of Africa, where the blank inland spaces stand in stark
contrast to the fanciful imaginings of an earlier age.  His work dominated the secnd half of
the 18th century and kept France in the forefront of the development of geography as a
science.  From 1740 onwards he published collections of maps under the title ATLAS
GENERALE which were reprinted in numerous editions in several languages.

He became Geographe Ordinaire du Roi when only 22 years old, a member of the Acadamie
des Sciences in 1773 and ultimately Premiere Geographe du Roi in 1779.  His distinctive maps
are superbly engraved and elegant in their clarity and accuracy.

Jacques Nicholas Bellin 1703 - 1772
This highly respected French cartographer spent 50 years of his life at the Depot de la
Marine, the French hydrographic service.  Amongst many other distinctions he became
Hydrographer to the King and a member of the Royal Society in London.  As part of his
duties he was commissioned to map all of the known coasts of the world, which mammoth
undertaking resulted in the two volume HYDROGRAPHIE FRANCAIS published 1756 - 1765.  
In 1763 Bellin issued a PETIT ATLAS FRANCAIS in five quarto volumes, the maps without
plate numbers.  This first edition is exceedingly rare.  It was re-issued the following year,
1764, the title changed to PETIT ATLAS MARITIME (PAM) and the maps bearing a plate
number.  Thereafter, numerous foreign language editions were published until the end of the
century.  These finely engraved small maps invariably feature ornate cartouches which
complement the overall elegance of their design.  The PAM maps are copies (re-engraved and
with the cartouches added) of those compiled by Bellin for Prevost's HISTOIRE GENERALE
DES VOYAGES 1747 - 1761.  Volume five, published in 1748 contained maps of Africa.  A
Dutch edition of this work appeared in the same year by JV Schley.

Hondius family:
Jodocus Hondius 1563 - 1612
Jodocus Hondius (son) 1594 - 1629
Henricus Hondius (son) 1587 - 1638
Josse de Hondt, or as he is better known under the Latinised form of his name; Jodocus
Hondius, was born in Walkene in Flanders.  Shortly after he was  born the family moved to
Ghent.  As a child he demonstrated remarkable skill as an engraver and although largely self-
taught, became in due course one of the most celebrated craftsmen of his day.  In 1584 to
escape religious strife he left Flanders for temporary exile in London where he set-up as a
type founder and engraver, returning to Amsterdam sometime in the 1590s.  In 1604 he
acquired the  copperplates of Mercator's ATLAS, which he republished with additional maps
of his own in 1606.  There followed enlarged editions in several languages, still bearing the
name of Mercator, but with Hondius as publisher.  These atlases have become known as the
Mercator/Hondius series.  In 1612 Jodocus died but the business was continued by his
widow, Coletta, herself the daughter of another mapmaker, Pieter van den Keere.  She was
assisted by her sons; Jodocus II and Henricus.

The final edition of the atlas of Ortelius appeared in 1612 and for the next twenty years the
Mercator/Hondius atlas reigned
sans pareil in the European map market.  As the firm of Blaeu
grew to prominence, around 1633 Henricus joined forces with his brother-in-law Jan Janssen
to produce the atlas.  The final edition produced by Henricus was published in 1641,
thereafter control passed to Janssen.

Samuel Augustus Mitchell 1792 - 1868
An American map publisher based in Philadelphia.  His NEW UNIVERSAL ATLAS was published
in 1846 and then re-issued in various editions up to around 1890.  His work is notable for
the exceptional quality of the steel engravings.

John Ogilby 1600 - 1676
Born in Edinburgh, this talented and adaptable Scot was successively, and at times
simultaneously; dancing master, bookseller, Dublin theatre owner, printer, translator, Deputy
Master of the King's Revels, surveyor and cartographer.  Twice  in his life he lost everything
he had; first in a shipwreck off Ireland during the civil war and later, in the Great Fire of
London.  Ultimately he was appointed the King's Cosmographer and Geographic printer and
his most renowned work BRITTANIA, the first complete survey of the roads of England and
Wales, was published in 1675.

His maps of Africa appeared in AN ACCURATE DESCRIPTION AND COMPLETE HISTORY OF
AFRICA published in 1670, an English translation with adaptations of a Dutch work by
Montanus.  The eleven maps in this work, while not particularly advanced geographically, are
highly decorated and much sought after.
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