Very rare early map of Pennsylvania, published by John Seller near the end of the 17th century. The map shows in fascinating early detail parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Early towns named on this map are Philadelphia, Baltimore, Antioch, Chester, and New Castle. Native American settlements are also represented, with Sasquahang marked. Regions are named and topography is indicated.
This map is derived from Augustine Herrman's four-sheet map of Maryland, first published in 1673 which updated the earlier John Smith map. It would remain the most accurate map of the region until the 18th century. This map was critical in mapping the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania, as it was prepared under the auspices of Lord Baltimore and ran the border through several important points. Lord Baltimore, pleased with that map, would grant Herrman a large plot of land in the upper Chesapeake.
The presented map originally appeared in John Seller's New System of Geography, which began publication in 1685, the earliest example is known to definitively carry this map is from 1690. The map was later reissued in Seller's 1700 Atlas Terrestris.
This map is very rare on the market. We find no examples of the map being sold separately before. The last recorded example of a volume carrying this map was sold at Sotheby's in 1989.
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.