26 World/ Australia. HALLEY, E./ OTTENS, R. & I. 214


Description: Beautiful, Large-Scale World Map
By a Major Figure of Science
World/ Australia.
[Amsterdam, c. 1740]
Nova & Accuratissima Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula Nautica . . . per Edm. Halley . . .

20 ¾ x 56 ¾ inches, Fine original color; few fold reinforcements, light stains, marginal mends, still excellent overall. Finely framed in silver gold leaf.

Scarce. A large, strikingly designed world map by the great English scientist, Edmund Halley, after whom the famous comet was named. It was the first map to delineate magnetic declination (i.e. compass variations resulting from the earth’s magnetism) across most of the surface of the globe. Halley intended this chart to be used at sea by navigators, and as Whitfield points out, “a version of this chart was part of the navigator’s essential equipment.” In fact, no previous world map contained as much navigation-related data as this one that also delineates prevailing winds and ocean currents. The chart’s magnetic declination data combined with the Mercator Projection, on which the map was laid out, allowed the navigator to plot straight line courses. Halley would also erroneously argue that the key to determining longitude at sea, which also had long bedeviled mariners, was through an application of magnetic declination data.

Halley’s map has the curious feature of showing Australia twice. It’s possible that this was done to show on the right side of the chart the continuity of currents and patterns of declination between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Halley’s first chart to delineate magnetic declination, which appeared in 1701, included only the Atlantic Ocean. It was based entirely on observations Halley himself made in voyages he captained between 1698 and 1700. Halley’s expanded mapping of this phenomenon on this world chart resulted from his study of the journals of several explorers.

Cf. Whitfield, P. The Image of the World, p. 110.

Price: $12,500.00 save 10% $11,250.00
  • Number: 2140008
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum

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