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Unusual Example of Richard Blome's Map of the Turkish Empire Depicting the Monopoly of the Levant Company

Old color example of this scarce map of the Turkish Empire, centered on Asia Minor & Cyprus, the earliest folio sized map of the region to be engraved in England.

At the top left is a dedication which reads To the Right Worshipfull the Governour, Deputy Governour & Court of Assistance of the Company of Merchants Trading into the Levant Seas. Rather than being just a map of the Turkish dominions it depicts the extents of the trade monopoly of the Levant Company.

Founded in 1592, the Levant or Turkey Company's Royal Charter gave them control of Mediterranean trade from Venice eastwards. This originally included the East Indies 'lately discovered', but the founding of the East India Company in 1600 clarified the eastern boundaries of the Levant Company. The Company had factories (trading posts) in Constantinople, Smyrna, Aleppo and Alexandria, and the British consuls in Constantinople and Smyrna were employed by the Levant Company. On his restoration, Charles II renewed their charter, under the name 'the Company of Merchants of England trading to the Seas of the Levant'.

The present map was engraved using two plates, which were joined to form a single sheet. Curiously, virtually every other example of the map we have ever seen does not properly cut and join the map, creating a curious appearance as illustrated here: /gallery/detail/32422mb

While John Speed's atlas was published prior to Blome, the plates were engraved and printed in Amsterdam. The map was curiously engraved on two plates, with an odd small plate on the left side. The map demonstrates the naïve engraving style characteristic of 17th Century English engravers, and features an elaborate heraldic cartouche and a dedication to the Merchants Trading into the Levant Seas, plus several sailing ships, camels, etc.

Blome's maps, because of their rarity and importance in the history of English Cartography, are essential items for regional collectors. Blome first began engraving maps for his Geographical Description Of The Four Parts Of The World, in 1667. The completed volume was in small folio, and contained 24 maps (plus one duplicate), engraved by Francis Lamb, Thomas Burnford and Wenceslas Hollar.

Blome's principal handicap in the production of the atlas was the lack of a domestic mapmaking environment comparable with that in Europe. Also, to finance his work, he undertook subscribers, in exchange for a promise to add their coat of arms to certain maps. In later editions, if the renewal fee was not paid, Blome added a different subscribers coat of arms, leading to multiple images on various editions of the same map.