1797 Homann Heirs Map of Africa

Charte von Africa.

1797 Homann Heirs Map of Africa


Speculative map of the African continent.

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Charte von Africa.
  1797 (dated)    19 x 21 in (48.26 x 53.34 cm)     1 : 20050000


This is an attractive 1797 map of Africa by Homann Heirs. Based on earlier work of Sayer, Rennel and Arrowsmith and new observations, this map by F.L. Güssefeld presents the entire continent with impressive detail of the largely unexplored interior. Features the names of various tribal groups and indigenous empires throughout, while at the same time, avoiding presumption regarding the general geography of the interior. The known lands, most explored by missionaries and early colonists, of Mediterranean Africa, Egypt, Abyssinia, Morocco, the Niger Delta, and South Africa and the Congo, are mapped according to convention. Lake Malawi (Maravi or Zambre) appears in its embryonic form.

Of the many tribes noted throughout, the Hottentotten tribe appears in South Africa. The Hottentots were actually what some Europeans called the Khoikhoi ('people people' or 'real people') or Khoi. (The term 'Hottentot,' an imitation of the sound of the Khoisan languages, is considered derogatory today.) The Khoi are the native people of southwestern Africa, and are closely related to the Bushmen.

Across the center of the continent the map details a mythical mountain range commonly known as the ‘Mountains of the Moon’. The mountains of the moon were first postulated by Ptolemy to be the source of the Nile. This mysterious range remained on maps until the mid 19th century explorations of Burton, Speke, and Livingstone. Today it is generally agreed that references to the Mountains of the Moon refer to the Ruwenzori Range of Kenya & Uganda.

Overall, a beautiful map of the continent on the cusp of Europe's great wave of exploration into the interior of Africa. Issued by Homann Heirs in 1797.


Johann Baptist Homann (March 20, 1664 - July 1, 1724) was the most prominent and prolific map publisher of the 18th century. Homann was born in Oberkammlach, a small town near Kammlach, Bavaria, Germany. As a young man Homann studied in a Jesuit school and nursed ambitions of becoming a Dominican priest before converting to Protestantism in 1687. Following his conversion, Homann moved to Nuremberg and found employment as a notary. Around 1693 Homan briefly relocated to Vienna, where he lived and studied printing and copper plate engraving until 1695. Afterwards he returned to Nuremberg where, in 1702, he founded the commercial publishing firm that would bear his name. In the next five years Homann produced hundreds of maps and developed a distinctive style characterized by heavy detailed engraving, elaborate allegorical cartouche work, and vivid hand color. The Homann firm, due to the lower cost of printing in Germany, was able to undercut the dominant French and Dutch publishing houses while matching the diversity and quality of their output. By 1715 Homann's rising star caught the attention of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles the VI, who appointed him Imperial Cartographer. In the same year he was also appointed a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Homann's prestigious title came with a number of important advantages including access to the most up to date cartographic information as well as the "Privilege". The Privilege was a type of early copyright offered to a few individuals by the Holy Roman Emperor. Though not as sophisticated as modern copyright legislation, the Privilege did offer a kind of limited protection for several years. Most all J. B. Homann maps printed between 1715 and 1730 bear the inscription "Cum Priviligio" or some variation. Following Homann's death in 1726, the management of the firm passed to his son Johann Christoph Homann (1703 - 1730). J. C. Homann, perhaps realizing that he would not long survive his father, stipulated in his will that the company would be inherited by his two head managers, Johann Georg Ebersberger and Johann Michael Franz, and that it would publish only under the name Homann Heirs. This designation, in various forms (Homannsche Heirs, Heritiers de Homann, Lat Homannianos Herod, Homannschen Erben, etc..) appears on maps from about 1731 onwards. The firm continued to publish maps in ever diminishing quantities until the death of its last owner, Christoph Franz Fembo in 1848.


Very good. Minor wear and creasing along original centerfold. Some damage near bottom centerfold, repaired. Minor loss and scuffing. Original platemark visible. Foxing at places. Water stains in lower margins.


OCLC: 70772521. Library of Congress, Map Division, G8201.F7 1797 .G8.
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