MOLL, Herman (1654-1732)
A New and Correct Map of the Whole World, Shewing ye Situation of Its Principal Parts...
London: H. Moll, T. & J. Bowles, P. Overton & J. King, [dated 1719, but circa 1730]. Copper-engraved map, on four joined sheets, with original outline colour, in excellent condition. Sheet size: 29 x 48 7/8 inches.
A fine copy of Herman Moll's monumental and highly engaging world map, charted on Mercator's Projection
This fascinating global perspective depicts the latest state of knowledge of the world in the first quarter of the eighteenth-century. The delineation of Europe, South America, and southern Asia is quite sophisticated, while the depiction of regions further beyond suggests only fleeting exploration or outright speculation. The map features the sailing tracks of various explorers including Henry Hudson, Thomas James, Willem Barents and the circumnavigation of Woodes Rogers. Most of the Arctic is labelled "Parts Unknown," and the American West is largely conjectural, featuring California as an island, the most beloved of cartographic misconceptions. Lands as depicted to the east of the Spice Islands are scarcely contemplated, "Iesso," or Hokkaido, is shown to be part of Siberia, and eastern Australia is left as a complete enigma, decades before the voyages of James Cook. This map was intended to satiate the intense English interest in maritime exploration and commerce. The oceans within the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn feature highly detailed hydrological information, most notably the direction of ocean currents, gleaned from Moll's esteemed contemporary Sir Edmond Halley. The inset to the upper left of the map features a diminutive world map depicting numerous lines of the degrees of compass variation. These calculations are, in part, based on measurements taken by Woodes Rogers during his transit across the Pacific, his individual readings being noted on the general map. An elegant circular inset in the lower left of the map depicts the Arctic regions as seen from directly above the Pole. This magnificent composition is further accentuated by the large title cartouche, which features personifications of the Old and New Worlds, enlivened by the most virtuous engraving.
The present map was part of Herman Moll's magnificent folio work, a New and Compleat Atlas . Moll was the most important cartographer working in London during his era, a career that spanned over fifty years. His origins have been a source of great scholarly debate; however, the prevailing opinion suggests that he hailed from the Hanseatic port city of Bremen, Germany. Joining a number of his countrymen, he fled the turmoil of the Scanian Wars for London, and in 1678 is first recorded as working there as an engraver for Moses Pitt on the production of the English Atlas . It was not long before Moll found himself as a charter member of London's most interesting social circle, which congregated at Jonathan's Coffee House at Number 20 Exchange Alley, Cornhill. It was at this establishment that speculators met to trade equities (most notoriously South Sea Company shares). Moll's coffeehouse circle included the scientist Robert Hooke, the archaeologist William Stuckley, the authors Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe, and the intellectually-gifted pirates William Dampier, Woodes Rogers and William Hacke. From these friends, Moll gained a great deal of privileged information that was later conveyed in his cartographic works, some appearing in the works of these same figures. Moll was highly astute, both politically and commercially, and he was consistently able to craft maps and atlases that appealed to the particular fancy of wealthy individual patrons, as well as the popular trends of the day. In many cases, his works are amongst the very finest maps of their subjects ever created with toponymy in the English language.
Shirley, Maps in the Atlases of the British Library I , T.Moll-4b, 2; Cf. Reinhartz, The Cartographer and the Literati: Herman Moll and his Intellectual Circle.