A rare map of the Cape of Good Hope and its coastline
By THORNTON, John , 1734

A Draught of Cape Bona Esperanca.

Africa Southern Africa
  • Author: THORNTON, John
  • Publication place: [London
  • Publisher: Samuel Thornton
  • Publication date: 1734].
  • Physical description: Engraved double-page engraved chart.
  • Dimensions: 530 by 430mm. (20.75 by 17 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 12026


A rare milestone in the history of mapping of the Cape of Good Hope and its coastline. The chart was engraved by John Thornton and published in his ‘English Pilot’ up to 1711. In 1716, the pilot and the plates had been acquired by Thomas Mount and Richard Page who published the chart with little revision throughout the eighteenth century.

The prospect above the chart, of the early settlement, captures an important historical paradox: the English names of the mountains, which English sailors had assigned to them, and a symbol of the Dutch occupation: a Dutch flag atop the fort built in 1652. King James I of England had decided not to take possession of the Cape when two captains in the English East India Company offered it to him after they had laid claim to the land in 1620; consequently, the Dutch settled there in 1652. The vignette above the chart also includes the much copied drawing of the small wooden fort at the Cape settlement. The fort was made of wood and mud and was replaced in 1679 by a stone fort known as The Castle (the oldest extant building in Cape Town). The vignette of the fort was copied by a number of other seventeenth century cartographers. The map also names Green Point for the first time – now the site of Cape Town’s controversial football stadium built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

This is the third state of the map produced by Thornton (earlier states in 1703 and 1711) but the first to be inserted in this pilot, which would later by acquired by Mount and Page. It has the imprint removed and the Bay of Falso added to the right. We have only been able to trace one other example of this map being offered for sale in the last 30 years.


  1. Tooley, p.101-4.