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John Seller (ca.1632-1697) may regarded as the true founder of the English chart-publishing trade, starting at a time when the Dutch dominated the field. He was the first to build a business and a legacy that, through his successors and the partners he brought in, continued on into the Victorian period.

An ambitious figure, his principal project was The English Pilot a series of pilot books with charts, intended to cover all the world. In parallel, he prepared the Atlas Maritimus, a sea-atlas of the world, assembled to order.

In 1677 Seller was forced to bring in partners . The two most important were John Thornton, the celebrated chart-maker, and William Fisher, a prominent nautical publisher. Fisher’s successor firm, colloquially “Mount & Page” went on to be the dominant English chart-publishers of much of the eighteenth century. Unfortunately, the partnership was short-lived and Seller’s partners went on to overshadow him.

John Seller was also an important publisher of separately-issued maps; there seems little doubt he oversaw publication of Augustine Herrman’s wall map of Virginia and published a famous map of New England among his prodigious output. However, after about 1680 he refocussed on the large-scale mapping of the English counties, which provided a quick route to financial ruin, and a series of pocket atlases of the world, terrestrial and maritime, the English counties and celestial atlas, all of which are now rare.



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The first printed chart of Boston Harbor

A great colonial rarity, being the first printed chart of Boston Harbor and the first navigable chart of any harbor in North America. This remarkable work charts the Massachusetts waters between Marblehead and “Wamor” (present-day Scituate). The broad outlines of Boston Bay and Harbor are recognizable, as are the complex of harbor islands, many of whose […]

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A great rarity of New England charting

A very rare chart first produced for the 1689 first edition of The English Pilot. The Fourth Book. It was the largest-scale and most detailed chart of coastal New England issued through the end of the 17th century. Thornton and Fisher’s chart depicts the northeast coastline and nearby waters from the mouth of the Kennebec […]

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