Second state of Seller's sea chart of the Western Atlantic and the contiguous coasts of New England, Canada, the Eastern Caribbean (from Puerto Rico and the Virginia Islands), Brazil and the Northeast Coast of South America.
The chart is orientated with north to the right, and shows the coast of Labrador, New Foundland and Nova Scotia, the Gulf of St Lawrence and along the coast to Long Island. From their the map covers the Atlantic south to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and along the coast of South America into Brazil to the eastern part, showing Pernambuco (now Recife). The Azores and Cape Verde Islands are on the east side of the chart. Tropicus Cancri is at the center of the sheet, almost on the fold.
In the top right corner is the Royal arms. The top left includes three scales, and below that is the title shown on an animal hide, supported by two South American natives. Beneath that is the arms of Brazil. In the sea there are two galleons, two sea monsters and two compasses.
Seller's chart is based upon Theunis Jacobsz chart of circa 1650. The most notable additions are the inclusions of the Orinoco River in South America and the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. This first edition was used from 1674 (the date penciled onto the map in the Samuel Pepys copy of Seller's Atlas Maritimus) to 1677, when the plate was revised. It may have been issued separately as early as 1672.
The second state of the map adds the names John Colson, William Fisher, James Atkinson and John Thornton to the title.
The map is very rare. This is the second example we have offered in over 20 years.
John Seller was one of the most notable map and instrument makers in England in the late-seventeenth century. He was especially known for the sea charts, many of which featured in his influential English Pilot and Atlas Maritimus. Seller was born in London in 1632. His father was a cordwainer and John was apprenticed to Edward Lowe, of the Merchant Taylors’ Company. He was made free of that company in 1654. Later, he also was made a brother of the Clockmakers’ Company, which housed several instrument makers. He started business as a compass maker but expanded his offering to include navigational instruments and charts.
Seller’s career was halted temporarily, and fantastically, when he was tried for high treason in 1662. He was accused of involvement in a plot led by Thomas Tonge. While Seller likely only unwisely repeated rumors, he was convicted. The other conspirators, who did admit some degree of guilt, were executed, but Seller maintained his innocence and, via insistent petitions, he eventually secured his release from Newgate Prison.
This episode did not seem to slow Seller’s rise too much, however. Seller was granted a royal license to publish English-language maritime atlases. This gave him a near-monopoly and led to his being named hydrographer to the King in 1671. Although the point of the project was to produce English charts of Dutch dominance and bias, Seller ended up using many Dutch plates as his base material. The first volume of The English Pilot was published in 1671, followed by more volumes as well as The Coating Pilot (1672) and the Atlas Maritimus (1675). Seller was commercially successful, but some of his projects required further support. The English Pilot was eventually taken over by John Thornton and William Fisher, for example, and his proposed English atlas only produced maps of six counties.
Seller’s sons, John and Jeremiah, followed in their father’s profession. Seller also apprenticed several promising young men, including Charles Price, with whom his sons partnered. Through Price, Seller can be seen as the founding figure of an important group of London mapmakers that included Price, John Senex, Emanuel Bowen, Thomas Kitchin, and Thomas Jefferys.