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Description

"The first sea chart of  [New England and] the Maritimes published in England." - Burden II (#444)

Rare English sea chart of the coast of North America from Long Island in the south to Newfoundland in the north, published at about the same time of the final acquisition of New England from the Netherlands in 1674 (although dated by some historians as early as 1670, including the entry for the map the Library of Congress).

Seller's chart is the first English Sea chart to closely focus on this region, illustarting the best available English knowledge of the region in the 1670s, an important decade in the development of the English colonies in the New World. In 1674, New Netherland was permanently relinquished to the English with the Treaty of Westminster. King Philip's War was fought in New England from '75-'76.

The chart is embellished with images of beavers north of the River Canada (St. Lawrence River), a subtle reminder of the fur trade, which the English had only recently commenced with the formation of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1670 and the first commercially successful expeditions into the region to the Northwest, via Hudson Bay and James Bay between 1668 and 1673.

While Seller follows the basic outline of Dutch the landmark map of Dutch chartmaker Joannes van Loon and his chart Pas-caerte van Terra Nova, the map includes significant improvements and new information. As noted by Burden,  

[Seller's chart] adds St John Isle, or Prince Edward Island, so poorly missed [by Van Loon] and not replaced by any other cartographer to date. He also improves the depiction of the Avalon peninsula in Newfoundland with the English knowledge learned through John Mason. The R. Sauguenay and Les Trois Riviere are both prominently inserted in detail. He extends the area of coverage westwards to take in the English settlement in New England.

In addition to the improvements noted by Buren, we note that Seller significantly improved the bathymetry of the banks off of Canada and New England, adding dozens of soundings across the major banks, which have been significantly reformatted.

Seller also had a far better knowledge of the English settlements in New England, here adding Boston and Charlestown (the former previously called "Briston"), as well as New London and "Plimouth".

Laurence Worms, in his essay on Seller and Pepys notes that Seller's North American cartography is of substantial merit, noting that for North America, Seller's work was:

. . . a special case – Dutch material was less plentiful, English interest rising fast (and we may care to speculate about Seller being so frequently on the New England Walk of the Royal Exchange at the time of his trial) . . . Seller was rather more interesting and original in his work [in his cartographic depiction of the British Colonies in North America]

States of the Map

The map is known in two states:

  • 1674 ca: John Seller imprint
  • 1677 ca: Imprint changed to John Seller, John Colson, William Fisher, James Atkinson, and John Thornton 

Rarity

The chart last appeared in a 2014 Martayan Lan catalog asking $28,500. Since then, the companion Seller map of New England, which follows the present map in the Atlas Maritimus, sold at Doyle Auctions in New York for $343,750.

Condition Description
Old color. Laid on a second sheet of paper, as issued for use at sea. It is possible that some of the elements were retouched at a later time, though the map obviously has some verso oxidation of the green pigments.
Reference
Laurence Worms, "Seller, Pepys, and the Seventeenth-Century London Map Trade" ( https://ashrarebooks.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/seller-pepys-and-the-seventeenth-century-london-map-trade/ )