"THAT WHICH GOES BY THE NAME OF MOLL'S GEOGRAPHY IS THE MOST PERFECT PIECE THAT HAS BEEN WRIT YET IN ANY LANGUAGE": VOLUME V OF THE ATLAS GEOGRAPHUS, 1717, WITH 20 FINELY ENGRAVED FOLDING HERMAN MOLL MAPS OF THE AMERICAS, AS WELL AS AN EARLY ENGLISH MAP OF AUSTRALIA
(MOLL, Herman). Atlas Geographus: or, a Compleat System of Geography, (Ancient and Modern) for America. In the Savoy [London]: Printed by Eliz. Nutt, for John Nicholson… and sold by John Morphew, 1717. Small quarto, contemporary tan paneled calf rebacked, raised bands, brown morocco spine label, renewed endpapers. $3800.
First edition of Volume V (of five) of this renowned early 18th-century atlas—an important and desirable volume covering the Americas and Australia, often offered separately—with 21 engraved maps (20 folding) by Herman Moll. This volume contains ten folding maps of South America, and ten folding maps of Central America, North America, and the islands of the Caribbean. Included in this volume on the Americas is a 22-page chapter on "Terra Australis Incognita, or the Unknown Southern Land," which features an early map of "New Guinea, New Britain, and New Holland"—i.e., an early English map of the Australian continent.
Herman Moll, a naturalized Dutchman, came to England in about 1678. He worked with Moses Pitt, Greenville Collins, John Adair and Seller as an engraver, before starting his own business in Blackfriars. "In 1711, he founded Atlas Geographus, a much imitated monthly magazine which ran until 1717, when it was fully published in five volumes. When the runs of the magazines or volumes were completed, the subscriber had an up-to-date geography of the world, containing maps and other illustrations, which was far more detailed than [Moll's earlier] A System of Geography. John Green in his own relatively singular The Construction of Maps and Globes in 1717 offered a critique of Atlas Geographus… 'that which goes by the Name of Moll's Geography, is the most perfect Piece that has been writ yet in any Language'" (ODNB). Moll also provided the maps for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Tour thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724) and his maps form the basis for those of the fantastic lands in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726). "Moll's reputation rests upon a long and extremely fertile career of almost 60 years that yielded a diverse offering of over two dozen geographies, atlases, and histories and a myriad of individual maps, charts, and globes, spanning the known earth. Through his many works, he had also had an impact beyond geography and cartography on his adopted country and its future by graphically staunchly advocating early British expansion and empire" (ODNB). The folding map of North America, opposite page 452, depicts California as an island, characteristic of maps from this period. Moll issued his Atlas Geographus in monthly parts to subscribers between 1711-17, and then as a complete work in five volumes in 1717, with Volumes I and II covering Europe, Volume III covering Asia, Volume IV covering Africa, and this fifth volume covering the Americas and the South Pacific. Complete sets of the five volumes with all maps are rare, and individual volumes are typically offered separately. Tooley, Mapping of Australia and Antarctica 908.
Short marginal tear to leaf 4D, just touching letterpress. Text generally clean, with mild browning affecting several text leaves through signatures 3X-4K (pp. 529-632); plates with occasional marginal wear, images clean and fine. An extremely good copy in contemporary calf covers.