‘THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT COLLECTION OF CHARTS EXCLUSIVELY OF THE AMERICAN COASTS TO BE PUBLISHED IN ENGLAND’.
The series of ‘English Pilot’ books commenced in 1671 at the hand of John Seller, whose charts derived from the Dutch pilot books of Pieter Goos. ‘Seller’s ‘English Pilot’ initiated the independent production of pilot books in England which ultimately overcame Dutch predominance’ (Koeman, IV, p. xiii). ‘For British trading in North America and for the colonists there, the publication of ‘The English Pilot: The Fourth Book’ must have been a godsend. For the first time an English sea atlas presented charts of the whole eastern seacoast of North America. To modern eyes the charts are crude and sparse of detail; but to the navigator of American waters in that period, it was his Bible. Whatever its shortcomings, there was really no substitute, no real competitor, for over sixty years’ (Cumming).
This work was in such high demand that 37 editions were published from 1689 to 1794, as were three pirated editions. During the history of publication, the charts went through numerous changes, starting with the 18 charts in the first edition, new and replacement charts were added regularly. Verner notes that 64 different chart titles have been recorded from the editions he examined. Due to its practical nature and use, copies of all editions are quite rare. This edition is published at the conclusion of the French and Indian War. Only three examples are recorded in the English Short Title Catalogue: Bowdoin College, Dalhousie University and Yale University. Indeed, this edition has not been seen in auction since 1956.
The ‘English Pilot’ was the first completely English sea atlas and the ‘West-India Navigation’ the first English sea atlas of the Americas. It was the ‘bible’ for mariners trading in American waters. This edition of 1763 was the last that bore the imprint of William Mount who retired in the same year, he died in 1769. The 1760’s was a period of change for the atlas in that some maps were retired and new ones introduced. Using Verner’s collations, four charts appear to be new to this edition including the ‘New and Correct Chart of Cuba, Streights of Bahama …’ It appears that 3 maps were dropped for this edition, two of them are old plates first issued in 1721 and a version of the even earlier Edmund Halley plate of the Atlantic Ocean. All editions of the ‘English Pilot’ are rare, and because of the demand for North American material the ‘Fourth Book’ particularly so.
Charts of interest include the two-sheet reduction of eight sheet marine atlas by Cyprian Southack (1662-1745) was a sea captain based in Boston, a privateer and mapmaker. It was the first marine atlas produced in America. Mark Tiddeman’s charts of New York harbour and the ‘Draught of Virginia’.
Provenance: with inscription on the title page of ‘Peter Weston Book 1795’; acquired July 2000 for a private English collection. Refer Burden (2007) 660; Cumming (1979) p. 39; Cumming & De Vorsey (1998) 144; ESTC N47591; McCorkle (2001) 731.1; Verner (1957); Verner (1967); Wooldridge (2012) nos. 89 & 94.