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African geographic myths: [ Prester John | Mountains of the Moon | Mountains of Kong ]
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Jodocus Hondius. "Abissinorum Sive Pretiosi Joannis Imperiu." Amsterdam: J. Hondius, 1606. 13 1/2 x 19 1/4. Engraving. Full original hand color. Top right corner of margin missing, else full margins. A few small burn spots and margin repairs. Darkened. Latin text on back. Koeman, Me 15, 125.
As early as 1122 there were stories of Prester John, who was supposed to be a Tartar chief converted to Christianity, whose kingdom was immeasurably rich. His help was sought by the Crusaders to liberate Jerusalem, and in general to help the Christian Europeans against the infidels. His existence was generally accepted by all. The Pope, on several occasions, sent out emissaries and letters to him. Marco Polo in part was looking for Prester John, and Polo reported that John had in fact existed, but had been slain by Genghis Khan in "the greatest battle that ever was seen." Searches for Prester John led to the re-establishment of ties with China and were very important in the opening of Asia.
Once it was clear that Prester John was not to be found anywhere in Asia, he found his way to Abyssinia, or central Africa. This was the current notion in the late sixteenth century, and remnants of this belief were still about after the turn of the century. This map is entitled 'Prester John's Empire,' but no specific indication is given of his kingdom on the map. A geographic myth that does appear is that of the mountains of the Moon ("Lunae Montes") and the source of the Nile is shown in two lakes in southern Africa. It would not be until the eighteenth century that this Ptolemaic misconception was finally eradicated from the map. $900
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Jocodus Hondius. "Nova Africae Tabula." Amsterdam: J. Hondius, 1607. 14 3/4 x 19 3/4. Full original hand color. Minor repair lower centerfold. Else, very good condition. Denver.
In 1606, Jodocus Hondius brought out his first edition of Gerard Mercator's Atlas, the plates for which he had purchased in 1604. Besides maps from these plates, Hondius introduced some new maps of his own, adding more each year the atlas was reissued. Amongst the first maps Hondius added were ones of each of the four continents. This is Hondius' updated version of Africa.
Hondius took most of his depiction from the Mercator map, though he made some modifications. He altered the shape of Madagascar, as well as many coastal features of the continent. He added a note about the resources on St. Helena Island mentioning its use as a place for providing for journeying ships. Hondius changed Mercator's river system a bit, returning more to Ptolemy's depiction for the source of the Nile, which is shown as arising in two large lakes, "Zaire" and "Zaflan." These are located just north of the mythical "Lune Montes" (Mountains of the Moon). The Senegal and Niger Rivers are depicted as continuous, another long standing conception, with the latter river ending in Central Africa in the "Niger Lacus." Like on Mercator's map, Hondius shows the Congo as joining up to the Nile River system, in this case in Lake Zaire, making it possible to sail from the Atlantic to Cairo through the landmass of Africa.
Hondius removed Mercator's vignette of Prester John, but adds small pictures of an elephant, a monkey, and a camel. Off the coast Hondius added even more decorative features, including several sea monsters, sailing ships, and an unusual native dugout canoe with a square rigged sail. The title cartouche is a wonderful example of seventeenth century style, crowned with a grinning monkey head. The colors of this map, applied at the time of publication, are superb and add immeasurably to its decorative appeal. With so little really known of the 'dark continent' in the seventeenth century, the passing of years did not necessarily mean that new maps were any more accurate than earlier ones. Unquestionably, however, this is one of the most interesting and attractive maps ever produced of Africa. $2,400
Emanuel Bowen. "A New and Correct Map of Africa." From John Harris' Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels. London, 1748. 14 3/8 x 17 5/8. Engraving. Trimmed at top just into border at left; top margin expertly replaced. Otherwise, very good condition.
Emanuel Bowen was a map engraver, printer and publisher in London in the mid-eighteenth century. He achieved considerable success in this field, being appointed as engraver to both Louis XV of France and George II of Britain, and later as Geographer to the latter. He produced some of the most interesting maps of his time. Despite his royal appointments and apparent success, Bowen died in poverty in 1767. Through all the vicissitudes of his life, however, Emanuel Bowen's maps continued at a very high level of quality, as exemplified by this nicely detailed map of Africa, "Drawn from the most Approved Modern Maps and Charts, and adjusted by Astronomical Observations, representing also the course of the Trade Winds Monsoons &c." The winds noted by Bowen are shown around the continent, as this information was important for the extensive shipping that regularly rounded the continent for trade between Europe and the Far East. Detail in the interior is copious, some accurate and much inaccurate. The Nile is shown rising in the Ethiopian highlands from Lake Dambea. The Senegal River is shown extending much to far east, the eastern part being a misrepresentation of the Niger River, which does not appear at all. Dutch settlements are indicated in South Africa, just north of which is labeled "The Hottentots." Other interior information features wells, forts, lakes, mines, and "Antropophages or Men Eaters." $525
Guillaume Delisle. "Carte d'Afrique." Paris: Phillipe Buache, -1772. 19 1/2 x 25. Engraving. Some old surface marks. Mounted on old linen. Otherwise, very good condition. Denver.
A updated version of Guillaume Delisle's 'mother' map of Africa. "In the history of cartography of Africa the name of Guillaume De l'Isle is pre-eminent... He ranks after Ptolemy in the importance of his contribution to the mapping of Africa." (Tooley, Collector's Guide to Maps of Africa, pp. iv-v) Delisle, the 'father of modern cartography,' was also known as the 'first geographer to his majesty,' a title created especially for him. Delisle was a product of the renewed intellectual activity which characterized eighteenth century France, and he used data supplied by the Parisian Academy of Science, producing the finest and most accurate maps of his time. His map of Africa is an excellent example of his work. That map was a seminal map of the continent, followed for much of the following century. In his first map of the continent in 1700, Delisle remeasured the Mediterranean, being the first to establish its correct longitude, and thus to give a correct picture of Africa's northern coast. He was the first to discard Lake Zaire and Zaflan, as inherited from Ptolemy, and the first to show the correct source of the Blue Nile. In his revised map of 1722, Delisle adds the improvement of the depiction of Lake Myassa (Moravi). As characteristic of the period, emphasis is on the coastal area, which is well delineated. Little was known about the interior of the continent at that time, but Delisle gives interesting information about the locations of native tribes. This is a further updated map issued by Delisle's successor, Phillipe Buache, in 1772. $750
Rigobert Bonne. "Carte de la Guinée." From Atlas Moderne ou Collection de Cartes sur toutes les parties du Globe Terrestre. Engraving. Paris: Jean Lattré & Delalain, -1775?. On two sheets: each map approx. 16 5/8 x 12 1/4. Original hand color. Very good condition.
Rigobert Bonne (1727-1795) produced a large number of atlases and charts, and his maps also appeared in Lattré & Delalain's Atlas Moderne. Maps from this atlas used information compiled from 1762 until 1775. This map depicts a very accurate image of the West African coast, extending from the Cape Verde islands in the northwest to "Cap Negro" south of Congo. Major rivers and towns are noted, and current political divisions are shown with lovely pastel hand-coloring. A finely etched title cartouche graces the lower left of the first sheet. For the pair: $600
John Cary. "A New Map of Africa, from the Latest Surveys." London: J. Cary, 1805. 18 1/2 x 20 7/8. Original outline coloring. Light creasing and light smudges at center. Short tear at lower centerfold. Otherwise, very good condition. Denver.
This map was drawn, engraved and published by John Cary (fl 1769-1836) in London for the 1805 edition of his New Universal Atlas. Amidst the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars, British naval power was rising, and mapmaking as an art and science kept pace. Cary used existing maps and new surveys to provide his clients with the most up-to-date information on all parts of the world. Inaccuracies might be evident, but they reflect the state of knowledge in western Europe when they were made. The northern parts of the continent show much information along the rivers, and trade routes. A non-existent mountain chain stretches across the continent; the eastern half of this range, "Mountains of the Moon," are a remnant of the Ptolemaic conception of Africa; the western half "The Mountains of Kong" were the result of a mistake by cartographer John Rennel in 1798. This map was the first to show the "Mountains of Kong" and the "Mountains of the Moon" as part of the same giant mountain range, a feature which would remain on maps of Africa until the 1850s. The southern half of the continent has information mostly along the coasts where traders and European settlements had been made. The interior of the south is mostly blank, "Unknown Parts," though Lake Maravi, an early reflection of the interior lakes, is shown. Attractive, with interesting information and absence of information, this is an excellent map of Africa from the beginning of the nineteenth century. $550
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J. Aspin. "Africa." From C. V. Lavoisne's A Complete Genealogical, Historical & Chronological Atlas. Philadelphia: M. Carey & Son, 1820. Map, 11 x 11 1/2; full sheet with text, 16 5/7 x 20 3/8. Engraving by Young & Delleker. Full original color. Very good condition.
A map of Africa issued is illustrate Lavoisne's Historical Atlas. The maps in this atlas were issued on sheets containing text around the maps giving the situation and history of the areas depicted. The map of Africa shows the political situation of the continent near the beginning of the nineteenth century, as known at the time. The text surrounding presents the history, physical description and political state of the continent. An excellent visual and verbal history of the country. $250
John Thomson. "Africa." From A New General Atlas. Edinburgh: J. Thomson, 1821. Engraving by Neele & Son. 19 1/2 x 23 1/4. Full original hand color. Full Very good condition.
A lovely and detailed map of Africa from Scottish mapmaker, John Thomson. This map was issued shortly before the period of extensive European exploration on the interior, so much of the continent is shown as "Regions unexplored." However, by the time this map was published, James Bruce had penetrated into Ethiopia and Mungo Park had explored in western Africa. Thomson shows good details based on these exploration and where else he had information, such as in the Congo and Southern Africa. The map is divided (somewhat arbitrarily) into regions with lovely pastel coloring, making the map as attractive as it is interesting. $525
Sidney Hall. "Africa." London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, 1828-9. 19 3/4 x 16 1/4. Engraving. Original outline color. Excellent condition.
A handsome map of Africa by British cartographer Sidney Hall, issued in London in 1828. Though other countries, including the United States, had by then developed cartographic industries of considerable quality, British map publishers were still the best in the world. This map is typical of their output, with clear and precise engraving depicting copious up-to-date information. Much of the interior of the continent was still unknown at the time, but there is good information of the coastal regions. For the rest of the continent, the coast is quite accurately mapped and major mountains are indicated and named. A wonderful map from the early nineteenth century. $525
David H. Burr. "Africa." From A New Universal Atlas (1835). New York: Thomas Illman, 1834. 10 3/8 x 12 1/2. Engraving by Illman & Pilbrow. Full original color. Light smudges in upper right. Else, very good condition. Denver.
An excellent map of Africa by David H. Burr, one of the most important American cartographers of the first part of the nineteenth century. Having studied under Simeon DeWitt, Burr produced the second state atlas issued in the United States, of New York in 1829. He was then appointed to be geographer for the U.S. Post Office and later geographer to the House of Representatives. As a careful geographer, Burr is painstaking in this map to put in only information for which he felt there was a scientific basis. Thus the interior of the southern half of the continent is left blank other than the note "Unexplored Region." Elsewhere, rivers, deserts, mountains, towns, and a number of countries are clearly presented. Of note are the inclusion of two mythical ranges, the Mountains of the Moon and the Mountains of Kong. Burr's maps are scarce and quite desirable. $225
A nice group of maps from Boston publisher and cartographer, Thomas G. Bradford. Issued in 1835, Bradford's Atlas contained maps of the United States and other parts of the world, based on the most up-to-date information available at the time. Cities, rivers, lakes, and some orography are depicted. Because Bradford continued to update his maps as he issued them in different volumes, this political information is very interesting for historic purposes.
A fascinating map from the early 19th century. This map shows the continent shortly after slaves were emancipated in the Cape Colony. Detail is impressive, with topography, settlements and political divisions indicated. Also many notes on local tribes. $225
Other Lothian maps of Africa:
An attractive map of Africa by Thomas Bradford from his larger size atlas. This map was first issued in the 1838 edition of Bradford's atlas, and this example came out four years later. This map was issued at a time when cartographers no longer filled in unknown regions with elephants and made-up information, and the blank areas on the map show how much of the "Dark Continent" was still unexplored by Europeans and Americans. There is good information along the coast and up the various rivers that had been explored. An attractive map that well documents the state of geographic knowledge about mid-century. $225
Henry S. Tanner. "Africa." From Tanner's Universal Atlas. Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1844. 12 x 14. Engraving. Original hand coloring. Very good condition. Denver.
This map was made by the great American cartographer, Henry Schenck Tanner. In 1816, Henry, his brother Benjamin, John Vallance and Francis Kearny formed an engraving firm in Philadelphia. Having had experience at map engraving through his work with John Melish, Tanner conceived of the idea of compiling and publishing an American Atlas, which was begun in 1819 by Tanner, Vallance, Kearny & Co. Soon Tanner took over the project on his own, and thus began his career as cartographic publisher. The American Atlas was a huge success, and this inspired Tanner to produce his Universal Atlas, of more manageable size. The maps were issued by Tanner until 1841, then in 1844 by Carey & Hart. Later the maps were issued by S. Augustus Mitchell, and then Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. into the second half of the century. $225
"Africa, North Part." [and] "Africa, South Part." From Black's General Atlas. Edinburgh: A. & C. Black, 1846. 15 x 10. Steel engraving by Sidney Hall. Original outline color. Very good condition.
A pair of maps of northern and southern Africa from a series of precisely detailed maps of the world from one of the leading British mapmaking firms of the nineteenth century. Adam and Charles Black issued atlases from the 1840s through the 80s, keeping their maps as current as possible. This handsome pair is a good example of their output. $110
"Map of Africa from the Latest Authorities." Philadelphia: Charles Desilver, 1856. 12 1/4 x 15 1/4. Lithograph. Original hand color. Very good condition. With decorative border.
Charles Desilver, one of the many publishers working in Philadelphia during the mid-nineteenth century, issued an atlas of maps based on the famous Tanner-Mitchell-Cowperthwait series. Desilver used much the same information as originally drawn in the 1840s, but updated the maps with new roads, towns, and other information. This map is typical of the rather unusual and scarce Desilver atlas. Inset showing "Map of the Republic of Liberia from Gurley's Report". An attractive and fascinating document. $160
"Map of Africa, Showing Its Most Recent Discoveries." Philadelphia: S. A. Mitchell, Jr., 1880. Lithograph. Original hand-coloring. 10 1/2 x 13 1/2. Full margins. Very good condition. Denver.
For most of the middle part of the nineteenth century, the firm founded by S. Augustus Mitchell dominated American cartography in output and influence. This fine map is from one of his son's atlases issued in 1880. It depicts as current geographical information as was available at the time, showing rivers, lakes, towns, trade routes and some orography. Political divisions are clearly indicated, highlighted with contrasting colors, giving us an interesting picture of what Americans understood of the states of Africa. The late nineteenth century was a period of great exploration throughout Africa and this map shows "its most recent discoveries." Despite this, there is still a large section noted as "Unknown Interior." A wonderful cartographic document over a century ago. $125
Frank A. Gray. "Gray's New Map of Africa." Philadelphia: O.W. Gray & Son, 1881. 15 x 12. Lithograph, engraved on stone by J.M. Atwood & W.H. Helms. Original hand color. Chip in top right corner; else very good condition. Backed with map of Asia.
The last part of the nineteenth century was a period of intense European exploration of Africa and this map reflects the latest information available on the "dark continent." For instance, information from Stanley's 1874-77 explorations to Lake Victoria and the Congo are included, as is much other interior detail that is impressively updated from earlier maps. The political situation of the continent is also up-to-date, with the Orange River Free State and Natal shown, and other nations/colonies along the coasts. Insets are included of St. Helena and the delta of the Nile. A wonderfully detailed and current snap-shot of Africa at an exciting period of its history. $150
James Wyld. "Wyld's New Map of Central Africa, Shewing All The Most Recent Discoveries & Explorations." London: J. Wyld, 1891. Separately issued, folding map: dissected into 32 sections and mounted on line. 23 x 30. Engraving. Full, original hand color. Some light surface soiling and scattered, neat manuscript notes and underlines. Very good condition and appearance. Folding into worn, original cloth covers.
From 1874 to 1877, H.M. Stanley's second expedition into Central Africa explored from the east coast, up to Lake Victoria, and then ending on the Congo. Inspired by Stanley's reports of the rich potential of this region, King Leopold of Belgium, in 1876, founded the International Association for the Exploration and Civilization of Central Africa. The Belgians were not the only European power interested in this region. The Portuguese had control of the mouth of the Congo River, with the French controlling the north side and the International Association the southern side and most of the vast interior. By 1884 the Association had become the Congo State, which the following year lost any International nature, becoming the personal possession of King Leopold. In the meantime, France, Germany, Britain, and the Portuguese jockeyed for land in the rest of Central Africa, making treaties and exerting power without much regard for native African wishes. This map shows the various spheres of control of these powers, their lands indicated with colors explained in a key in the lower left. $525
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Maps from New General Atlas of the World. Chicago: Rand, McNally & Co., 1895. Cerographs, with full original color. Very good condition. Denver.
A series of late nineteenth century maps from the early days of the Rand, McNally & Co. firm out of Chicago, a company that would shift the center of cartographic publishing from the east coast to the mid-west. Typical of the firm's work, these maps have very good detail precisely and neatly exhibited. Topographic and social information about the regions of Africa are neatly illustrated. Aesthetically and cartographically, they foreshadows the maps of the twentieth century. A lovely and colorful set of maps.
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