SELLER, John (fl. 1658-1698)
A New Systeme of Geography, designed in a most plain and easy method, for the better understanding of that science. Accommodated with new mapps, of all the ... countreys in the whole world. With geographical tables explaining the divisions in each mapp. By John Seller, hydrographer to the king]
[London]: Sold at his shop on the West-side of the Royal Exchange, . Small octavo. (5 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches). Letterpress text: 1-80 pp.only (of 112pp). Engraved additional title, uncoloured engraved plate with attached volvelle, 30 hand-coloured double-page engraved maps, 28 (of 29) leaves of engraved text (printed recto only, as issued). (Engraved title cut to plate edge and neatly laid down).
Contemporary mottled calf, expertly rebacked to style with the spine in five compartments with raised bands, lettered in gilt in the second
Provenance: early indistinct inscription on front pastedown (concerning original cost of the book, see note below).
The first edition of John Seller's very rare work: one of the earliest English world atlases.
The letterpress title-page confirms that this is the 1685 first edition of Seller'sNew Systeme... Lord Wardington noted that "Seller's pocket atlases are among the earliest 'English' world atlases; they are superior in execution and content to contemporary rivals, such as Jonas Moore's A New Systeme of the Mathematicks (London, 1681) or Morden's Geography Rectified (London, 1680, with later editions) and are appreciably rarer, the several editions of the New Systeme extant in only a handful of copies." This assessment is confirmed by OCLC who list only 6 copies of this first edition (Clements Library; Yale, University of Alberta, British Library [2 copies], Bayerische Staatsbibliothek), and by auction records. No copies are listed as having sold at auction in the past thirty-five years. Only five copies of any edition of this work are listed as having sold. Lord Wardington's 1695 edition was withdrawn from the sale and presented to the British Library by Lady Wardington. Seller seems to have sold the atlas in much the same way as the great Dutch composite atlases of the period, as Lord Wardington notes "the New Systeme seems to have been made up to order," a maximum of 110 pages (numbered 1-30, 33-112) of text is recorded. The number of maps varies: one of "the British Library's examples originally contained twenty-seven maps (four are missing, and one extra added), while the Library of Congress' example contains fifty-one maps." Contemporary confirmation of Lord Wardington's suspicions seems to be given here by the early inscription apparently shows that the cost of the book was calculated according to the number of maps it contained, along with the 'desc.' or number of text leaves that the purchaser chose to accompany the maps. A comparison with Rodney Shirley's description of one of the British Library copies (T.Sell-7a, which has only 23 maps) shows that the present example has 11 maps not in the BL copy, but also does not include four maps which are: one of 'The XVII Provinces', a second of 'the city of Hamburgh', a third of 'Lesser Tartaria' and a fourth 'Morea'. The fullest listing of maps which were offered for inclusion in the various editions of A New Systeme is given by Phillips (vol.IV, # 4267) where a numbered list of the 58 maps in the Library of Congress's 1690 edition is given. A comparison with that list shows that the present copy includes the following maps (identified by number): 1-3, 7-11, 13-14, 16-21, 23, 24, 27, 28, 30-34 and 51. The Phillips list does not include the 'A New Mapp of the World' or 'A Mapp of the World Shewing what a Clock it is', 'A Mapp of the Kingdom of England and Wales', 'Spaine' - all of which are also in the present atlas.
Betz Africa 134; cf. Phillips Atlases III, 3450 (1685 edition with 51 maps) & IV, 4267 (1690 edition with 58 maps) ; cf. Shirley Maps in the Atlas in the British Library T.Sell-7a (23 maps); Shirley World 524 and 525; cf. Wing S2477.