To The Right Honorable Charles Earl of Peterborow, and Monmouth, &c. This Map of Africa, According to yet Newest and most Exact Observations is most Humbly Dedicated
By: Herman Moll
Date: 1720 (published) London
Dimensions: 22.75 x 37.75 inches (55.5 x 96 cm)
This splendid large size map of Africa features the entire continent plus Madagascar, portions of the coast of Asia, Ceylon, India, Brazil, southern Europe and Anatolia along with an inset view of the Cape of Good Hope, depicting the bay filled with ships. Table Mountain and a key to the locations are noted. Three additional insets include Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast of Guinea, James Fort on St. Helena and a plan of the Fort of Good Hope. The map is remarkably accurate regarding the continent’s form, very close to a current satellite image of it.
While the contours of the continent had been quite accurately depicted for centuries, vast regions of Africa’s interior remained unexplored, uncharted by Europeans. In early maps these areas were often filled with visual myths, and Moll contributed his own mythology in places. At the center of the map is Ethiopia, which he labels as ‘completely unknown to Europeans’. Amongst the most conspicuous of African mythologies were those regarding the sources of the Nile River, which were yet unknown, and which until comparatively recently were still a matter of dispute. The map suggests a lake in Abissinia labeled Inza as the source of the Nile.
Moll includes an interesting note in Guinea stating, “I am credibly informed that ye country about 400 leagues North of the Coast of Guinea is inhabited by white Men, or at least a different kind of People from the Blacks, who wear Cloaths, and have ye use of Letters, make Silk, and that some of them keep the Christian Sabbath.”
The map is highly detailed with mountain ranges, river systems, lakes and all other geographical and topographical features represented, including mythological ones. Ocean currents are labeled, shoals are designated and islands are named. Known fortifications, settlements, villages, cities and ports are noted and a sea route from England to the East Indies is delineated. Grain, Ivory, Gold, and Slave coasts are clearly identified for commercial interests. Directions of winds are indicated along with the months in which they prevail.
The map is embellished with a decorative compass rose, a fantastic title cartouche featuring indigenous people with one wrestling a crocodile, and African flora and fauna including an ostrich, snakes, a lion and an elephant.
Condition: M small area of facsimile work just off West Africa. Archival repairs make these condition issues rather difficult to notice. Color is bold and full throughout the continent of Africa.
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