THORNTON, John (1641-1708) & Samuel (fl.1703-39)
A Chart of the Coast of Guinea from Cape de Verde to Cape Bona Esperança
London: William Mount & Thomas Page, . Copper-engraved sea chart, in excellent condition. Sheet size: 19 x 22 3/4 inches.
A very elegant sea chart of all of the west coast of Africa and one of the most important charts of the celebrated Third Book of 'The English Pilot'
This very fine sea chart embraces the coast of Africa from Senegal all the way down to Cape Agulhas, past the Cape of Good Hope. The features of the coast are named in great detail, and the seas are elegantly traversed by loxodromes. The map is oriented with the east towards the top of the map, and a very beautiful cartouche surrounded by mermen and seashells adorns the upper left corner. In 1671, the London cartographer John Seller (fl.1664-97) commenced work on The English Pilot, a work that intended to challenge Dutch hegemony in the sea atlas market. Intended to be published in four books covering different regions of the globe, Seller published an uncompleted book on 'Oriental navigation' in 1675. Unable to continue this Herculean endeavour, Seller sold his rights to John Thornton, the official hydrographer to the English East India Company. Thornton took up the project with great fervour, publishing his first editions in 1689. Thornton did not publish his first edition of the Third Book, detailing navigation in the East Indies, until 1703. While Thornton largely based his charts on those of earlier Dutch cartographers, most notably those found in Pieter Goos' Zee-Spiegel and Lucas Janz Waghenaer's Mariner's Mirror, The English Pilot proved to be enormously popular. When John Thornton died in 1708, his brother Samuel took over the business and added to and modified existing charts. All four books were produced in editions until the 1760s, the Third Book ran into twelve editions up to 1761. The project succeeded in giving the English dominance in the sea chart market as the eighteenth-century progressed.
Cf. Phillips, Atlases, 4278-10; Verner & Skelton (eds.), John Thornton - The English Pilot: The Third Book (Facsimile 1703 edition).