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Fine Chart of the Indian Ocean in an Influential Atlas
Scarce sea chart of the Straits of Singapore, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, the southern part of India and the Maldives, from the Atlas Maritimus & Commercialis, published in London in 1728.
The Maldives are shown in a characteristic line, almost appearing as a rectangular box at sea. Much of the chart shows open water, before encountering Southeast Asia and the islands of the Eastern Indian Ocean.
Atlas Maritimus et Commercialis
These charts were included in an important English maritime atlas of the early-eighteenth century, the Atlas Maritimus et Commercialis. The atlas included a geography text, sailing directions, and sea charts. It was published by, among others, the Knapton brothers, who were also responsible for some of the bestselling voyage accounts of the early- to mid-eighteenth century, including those of William Dampier.
The atlas was published specifically to rival the English Pilot, a five-volume work that was published first by John Seller, and then by his son, Jeremiah, and his partner, Charles Price, and then by Mount & Page. To differentiate it from the competition, the Atlas was published in one volume. It also featured the western and southern coasts of the Americas, which were not included in the Pilot.
Much of the text of the work is attributed to Daniel Defoe who, in addition to writing Robinson Crusoe, was also an eager advocate of colonial expansion and overseas trade. The atlas is usually attributed to John Senex, John Harris, and Henry Wilson. Nathaniel Cutler is thought to have contributed to the charts and to have written the sailing directions, which Edmund Halley supposedly edited. Edmund Halley is also mentioned on the title page as approving the projection, which most likely refers to a globular projection developed by Senex, Harris, and Wilson.
In 2015, a complete example of the atlas sold for £27,500 at Christie's in London. While the collaboration was impressive, the atlas never achieved the same commercial success. As such, the charts are quite scarce on the market.
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