1647 Dudley Chart or Nautical Map of South Africa

Carta particolare che comincia con il capo Degortam e con il capo Buona Speranza e finisce in gradi 27 di latitudine Australe. - Main View

1647 Dudley Chart or Nautical Map of South Africa


The Earliest Printed Chart of South Africa.


Carta particolare che comincia con il capo Degortam e con il capo Buona Speranza e finisce in gradi 27 di latitudine Australe.
  1647 (undated)     18.75 x 29.25 in (47.625 x 74.295 cm)     1 : 2130000


This is a superb example of Robert Dudley's 1647 coastal chart of South Africa. It was included in Dudley's Arcano del Mare, hailed by Tooley as
the first sea atlas in which every chart was based on Mercator’s projection, the first to show prevailing winds and currents in the main harbours and anchorages, the first to give magnetic declination, and the first sea atlas by an Englishman.
At least in principle, these navigational notes and the adherence to the Mercator projection would make Dudley's charts the first to be of any use at sea. The present chart exhibits all of these qualities.

The inclusion of coastal recognition views of the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Hangklip and Cape Agulhas on this particular chart suggests that Dudley, or his source for this chart, had benefited from actually having seen these shores. All of these views were landmarks of note for mariners rounding the Cape.
The Engraver
Dudley was fortunate in having at his disposal the master engraver Antonio Francesco Lucini, whose art is evident on all of the plates in the Arcano del Mare. Dudley's charts are prized for their superb, distinctive engraving and masterful calligraphy. This chart is also embellished with a fine compass rose, an elegant cartouche, and a neatly-engraved sailing ship.
Publication History and Census
This map was completed by Sir Robert Dudley in manuscript form c. 1636. It was engraved Lucini and printed in Florence in 1647. The present example is the first-state, first-edition. The Arcano del Mare is catalogued in about thirty institutional collections. The separate chart is catalogued only in the Stanford University Library.


Sir Robert Dudley (August 7, 1573 - September 6, 1649) was an English explorer and cartographer, the publisher of the Dell’Arcano de Mare, one of the greatest nautical atlases of all time. He was the illegitimate son of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester (a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I) and Douglas Sheffield, the widow of John Sheffield, 2nd Baron Sheffield. In 1594, Dudley led an expedition across the Atlantic, with the intent of harassing Spanish merchantmen. His expedition met with a series of misfortunes, but successfully returned to England the following year. In 1596, Dudley joined an expedition led by Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, against Cadiz. He served as the commander of the Nonpareil, and was knighted for his conduct in the capture of Cadiz. In 1603, Dudley made an attempt to establish his legitimacy at court and gain several inheritances, after being (possibly erroneously) informed that his parents had been secretly married. No concrete proof of the marriage could be furnished, thus the judgement was handed down against him in May 1605. Dudley left England in July of the same year, with his lover and cousin Elizabeth Southwell, who was disguised as his page. They married in Lyon in 1606 having received a papal dispensation. The couple settled in Florence, where Dudley began using his father’s title, Earl of Leicester, and his uncle’s, Earl of Warwick. In Florence, Dudley designed and built warships for the arsenal at Livorno and became a naval advisor to Ferdinand I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1607, James I revoked Dudley’s travel license once ordered that he return to provide for his deserted wife and family. Dudley refused, was subsequently labeled an outlaw, and his estate was confiscated. By far Dudley’s most important work was the Dell’Arcano del Mare (Secrets of the Sea). His most celebrated achievement, is the atlas of sea charts of the world which accompanied the work. This maritime atlas was the first nautical atlas of the entire world in print, the first made by an Englishman, the first to show prevailing winds and currents, and the first to use the Mercator projection throughout. Learn More...


Dudley, R., Dell'Arcano del Mare, (Florence) 1647.     Dell’Arcano del Mare (Secrets of the Sea) is a six volume 17th century maritime encyclopedia by English nobleman Sir Robert Dudley (1573 - 1649). It is considered to be one of the most important maritime atlases of all time, the first of its kind in print: the first sea atlas to treat the entire world (not just Europe), the first by an Englishman, the first to illustrate prevailing winds and currents, and the first to universally employ a Mercator projection. The charts themselves are notable for being all new works, created by Dudley based upon a lifetime of collecting maritime data. All of the roughly 130 known charts in the Dell’Arcano del Mare were engraved in the Italian baroque ethic by Antonio Francesco Lucini, a Florentine master engraver. It is said that the work took Lucini 12 years and consumed more than 5000lbs of copper. It was published in Florence between 1645 and 1646 in six folio volumes. Another edition was issued in 1661 but contained fewer charts.


Very good. Printed to two sheets and joined as issued. Few very unobtrusive spots, else a fine example with a superb, sharp strike.


OCLC 1000311311. Norwich, O. I., Norwich's Maps of Africa: An Illustrated and Annotated Cartobibliography, 245. Tooley R., Map Collectors' Circle, No. 47, 'Maps of Africa,' p. 37.