A little gem
By SELLER, John , 1700

Atlas Terrestris: or a Book of Mapps of all the Empires, Monarchies, Kingdoms, Regions, Dominions, Principalities, and Countreys in the whole World. Accommodated With a Brief Description of the Nature and Quality of each particular Countrey.

  • Author: SELLER, John
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: John Seller
  • Publication date: c.1700
  • Physical description: Small octavo (145 by 94mm). A(8): Letterpress title-page (without additional engraved title-page), "A General Description of the World", pages numbered 1-14. One double-page engraved chart of "Scales of Miles and Leagues…" and 83 double-page engraved maps all with contemporary hand-colour in outline, extra-illustrated with one uncoloured double-page map showing 'that part of Westphalia in which the French Army were defeated. Aug. 1, 1759', 3 double-page and folding uncoloured views, 3 folding views (one lacking right-hand section, another separated at fold, generally a bit toned, particularly to margins), 29 double-page uncoloured views, and one full-page volvelle. Full mottled pigskin, the spine in six compartments with five raised bands, red morocco lettering-piece in one.
  • Inventory reference: 1125


An attractive example of Seller’s miniature atlas. Despite the diminutive size of Seller’s pocket atlases, they were among the earliest ‘English’ world atlases – that is to say atlases based upon an English model rather than being printed from continental plates, as in the folio atlases of Ortelius, and Mercator, or, as was the case with Speed’s ‘Prospect’ and Blome’s ‘Geographical Description’, closely copied from continental examples.

Due to Seller’s overly ambitious atlas-publishing projects which led to his bankruptcy in 1677 and again in 1680-1681, much of his later output would revolve around the publication of such pocket atlases, many of which were based upon his folio output. The first to be miniaturized was his ‘Atlas Maritimus’ in 1682, with the ‘Atlas Terrestris’ appearing a few years later.

The present example can be dated to around 1700 and contains maps of North and South America, Europe, Asia, and America, together with several world and polar maps. The atlas also includes numerous prospects of central European cities, the various idols worshiped by the Chinese, and a plate detailing ‘The Several Postures of the Turks at their Devotions’.

Much of Seller’s output was composite in nature and the present atlas is no different. The suite of 121 maps and plates contained in this atlas is one of the the largest we have been able to trace. An example in the British Library contains 118 maps and plates.

The atlas includes two world maps: “A New Mapp of the World”. Double-hemisphere, showing California as an island, and a rudimentary western coast of Australia; and “A Mapp of the World Shewing what a Clock it is (at any time) in any part of the World,…” Double-hemisphere, showing California as a peninsula, and a rudimentary western Australian coastline.

There are eleven maps of Asia and the Middle-east, including “Tartaria” which shows Corea

Maps of the Americas include: “A Mapp of the North Pole”, which shows Labrador, Newfoundland etc; “North America”, showing California as an island’ “New England and New York”, “Pensilvania”, “Maryland and Virginia”, “Carolina Newly Described” (first state without St. Augustine), “Bermudas al’ Summer Islands”, “New Jarsey”, “Mexico or New Spaine”, “The Island of Tobago,…”, “The Island of Barbados”, “Insulae Jamaicae”, “Insula Matanino Vulgo Martinico”,”South America”, “Terra Firma”, “The Amazones Country”, “Brazil”, “Paraguay”, “Peru”, “Chili”, “The Magellanick Land”, and the “Mapp of the South Pole”, which shows Nova Hollandia, Nova Zeelandia and part of South America.


1. Maps and plate of Scales numbered throughout and annotated profusely on the verso in an 18th-century hand


  1. cf. Shirley, British Library T.SELL-8a.

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