[SENEX, John].

[SENEX, John]. Catalogue of Maps of the World.

London, [Mary Senex], [c.1740]


Tall folio (69cm by 30cm). 34 large fold out maps, fully hand coloured in contemp. watercolour, printed catalogue of contents to front pastedown and printed list of maps and atlases for sale on rear. Slight age yellowing, repaired tear to upper and lower margins of world map and one centrefold with some discolouration, and less so to map of Germany, very occasional light spot. Other maps in fine condition, printed on bold thick paper, minor creases, fold repaired, with bright attractive colouring. In contemp. calf with ornamental blind roll stamp concentric borders, ornamental tools at corners, rebacked and spine remounted, some wear and rubbing to covers, preserved in slip case.

Impressive collection of 34 large hand coloured fold out maps system renowned cartographer John Senex (1678-1740), compiled by his widow Mary Senex following his death. The maps present are listed on the front pastedown and include Whiston’s solar system, the world and the continents including fabulous maps of North and South America with California shown as an island; a characteristic feature of Senex’s maps. Other maps include several European countries including France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Poland as well as Africa, Turkey, Arabia and Persia and maps of Ancient, ‘Antiquae’, Italy, Greece and Africa. A complete and thorough collection of Senex’s most prized creations.

John Senex, famed cartographer, engraver, explorer, astrologer, geologist and geographer to Queen Anne, was one of the principal mapmakers of his day and is credited with creating the first pocket-sized map of the world. He was a fellow of the Royal Society and a prolific creator of antique maps, some of which are included in the present collection. Following his death in 1740, Mary Senex continued to operate the publishing business on Fleet Street until 1755. Shirley surmises the collection probably dates from shortly before her husband’s death. Many of the maps are individually dated, mostly 1720 and 1740. She published a broadsheet advertising the continued sale of Senex’s maps, globes and atlases, which is included on the rear pastedown along with prices, this having significant historical value in itself.

The fold out copper engraving world map is double hemisphere and surrounded by text from leading scientists of the day, with a dedication to Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington and Cork, who was a patron of John Senex. Surrounding the cartouche are allegorical figures. It was created when John Senex was still alive, in 1725 at his studio on Fleet Street. The text included is as follows: The Theory of the Tides from Sr. Isaac Newton’s Phil. Nat. Pinc. Math., An attempt to assign the Physical cause of the Trade Winds and Monsoons by Dr. Ed. Halley, and the same text is included in the bottom centre. Within the map itself California is shown as an island, with nothing to the northwest aside from the ‘Straits of Annian’ and a note stating ‘These parts are not yet discovered…’. Australia is called New Holland and is shown as connected to New Guinea. A small portion of New Zealand is included. Above Japan the mythical island of Yesso or Yedso is depicted, later identified as Hokkaido, which in the eighteenth century was still an enigma, only to be explained following the expeditions of Russian seamen under Peter the Great and a French expedition of 1780 which sailed between Yezo and Korea.

A most unusual and attractive feature of these maps are the annotations containing topographical information for the reader, providing charming insights into contemporaneous geography, politics and ethnographic studies. An excerpt from the North America map describes; “A lake of salt water 30 Leagues wide and 300 about according to the report of the Savages who also say that the mouth of it is a great distance from the South Coast and is buy 2 leagues broad. That there is above 100 Tonns about it, and that they sail on it with large Boats”. This refers to modern Salt Lake City. Upon the map of Africa is stated the King of Mujac “is very powerful and his subjects make frequent incursions on the Great Macoco which obliges him to keep an army on the Northern frontiers.” At the lower corner of the South America map a small image of an aquatic creature is accompanied by text; “In this Icy Sea there are many Animals; which are half Fish, half Foul. They have a neck like a Swan which they often thrust above the water for Air, the rest is always under water.” This of course is describing a penguin.

Shirley T.SEN-1f.
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