1663 Africae Nova Descriptio Impenfis Annae Seile
By: Robert Vaughan
Date: 1663 (Published) London
Dimensions: 13.5 x 16.5 inches (33.5 cm x 42 cm)
The original of this map was published in 1652 by Henri Seile, whose widow Annae employed Vaughan to re-engrave it in 1663. It is the earliest map of Africa to be printed by a woman, and one of the first of Africa available in Europe.
This remarkably executed, beautiful and decorative map depicts Africa and the island of Madagascar in great detail, Arabia with important points cited and ‘Part of Asia’ is labeled in the upper right quadrant. The Mediterranean and parts of southern Europe and ‘Natolia’ are included, as are Cypress and Sicilia. Bodies of water include, among others, The ‘Atlanticke Sea’, the ‘Aethiopian Ocean’, the ‘Indian Sea’ and the ‘East Ocean’, along with the Red Sea.
This map is extraordinary for both its embellishments and the information it provides. We find wondrous wildlife drawn with great flourish. A congenial sea monster frolics in the Aethopian Ocean while just above it some flying fish appear to be following a European galleon. A similar galleon embellishes the lower left quadrant. To the east of southern Africa and Madagascar many shoals and other dangers to sailors are depicted in detail. The birds and animals are all of a cheerful mien, adding to the enjoyment of studying the map.
Seile and then Vaughn attempted to convey as much information of the ‘Dark Continent’ as possible for the time, and the result is an appealing, informative and eye-catching work of art. The sources of the Nile are remarkably accurately placed. While the lakes named do not exist, in the rainy season water accumulates in those places, eventually flowing together to form the mighty life-giving river. A remarkable number of topographical and geo-political features are named including cities, kingdoms, mountains and deserts. A wide variety of comments illuminate the map, including topics such as ‘Amazons are believed to live here’, ‘Nilus yearly overflowing and watering ye Earth causeth ye countrey to be very fertile’ and ‘Benin The King of this Countrey is adored of the Comon people’; ‘Damute kingd: here gold is digged up in great quantity’.
A fascinating map, a must-have for anyone interested in this part of the world and what was known of it in the seventeenth century. A small baroque title cartouche is in the upper right quadrant.
Condition: This marvelous hand colored map is on watermarked paper with a strong impression. It is in A condition.
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