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[SELLER, John]. The English pilot. Part III: Describing the Sea-coasts, Capes, Head-lands.., London, Printed for J. Mount, and T. Page, MDCCLXXI [=1771].

The British artist, cartographer and royal hydrographer John Seller (1630-1697) is best known for the first detailed mapping of the Mediterranean coast, as published in the “English Pilot...”. This work was repeatedly reissued even after Seller's death and remained in use down to the 19th century. Seller's particular manner of depicting coasts and ports with their anchorages was an influence on several later cartographic editions (J. Bellin, Roux and others).

Seller published maps, atlases, almanacs and astronomical charts, as well as the first significant practical manuals for sailors. In 1671 he was proclaimed Hydrographer to Charles II of England. Seller held the monopoly of map publishing in England for approximately thirty years. He also founded a publishing house which issued Atlases in small and large format (astronomical, terrestrial and maritime), practical guides of various kinds, navigation manuals and navigational tools and instruments.

Seller's shop was located in the most crowded sailors' neighbourhood of London. There, clients who stopped by could be taught lessons in "Arithmetick, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, navigation, and gunnery; likewise the use of the globes, and other mathematical instruments, the projection of the sphere, and other parts of the mathematics." His business suffered from strong competition by Thornton and Fisher, who in the end obtained the rights to several works by Seller.

In his long career, Seller published “Praxis Nautica» (1669), “Atlas Maritimus” (1669), “Atlas Terrestris” (1676) and a concise treatise on navigation (1681). Although his maps are not especially remarkable with regard to engraving or aesthetic result, he played a major part in the history of English cartography by establishing the English language in maritime charts and contributing several maps to the cartographic production of the 17th century.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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