"TO THE NAVIGATOR OF AMERICAN WATERS IN THAT PERIOD, IT WAS HIS BIBLE": 1773 EDITION OF THE ENGLISH PILOT. THE FOURTH BOOK, "THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT COLLECTION OF CHARTS EXCLUSIVELY OF THE AMERICAN COAST TO BE PUBLISHED IN ENGLAND," ACCOMPANIED BY A CAPTAIN'S LOGBOOK RECORDING VOYAGES USING THE ENGLISH PILOT FOR NAVIGATION
MOUNT, John and PAGE, Thomas. The English Pilot. The Fourth Book. Describing the West India Navigation, from Hudson's Bay to the River Amazones. … The Whole being much Enlarged and Corrected, with the Additions of several New Charts and Descriptions. London: J. Mount and T. Page, 1773. WITH: Original sea captain's logbook. English Pilot: London: Printed for J. Mount, and T. Page, on Tower-Hill, 1773. Large folio (18-1/2 by 12 inches), period-style full paneled calf gilt, red and black morocco spine labels, raised bands. Logbook: Large slim quarto, (12 by 9-3/4 inches), period-style full paneled calf gilt, red morocco spine label, raised bands; 20 leaves. $35,000.
1773 edition of the "the first significant collection of charts exclusively of the American coast to be published in England," with 25 (of 26) maps and charts (12 folding, 8 double-page, 1 single-page and 4 in-text) and more than 200 in-text coastline profiles. Together with a captain's logbook for 1846-49.
"The first significant collection of charts exclusively of the American coasts to be published in England…For British trading in North America and for the colonists there, the publication of The English Pilot: The Fourth Book must have been a godsend. For the first time an English sea atlas presented charts of the whole eastern seacoast of North America. To modern eyes the charts are crude and sparse of detail; but to the navigator of American waters in that period, it was his Bible. Whatever its shortcomings, there was really no substitute, no real competitor, for over sixty years" (William P. Cumming, British Maps of Colonial America, Chicago & London 1974, p.39). "The English Pilot was the first major sea atlas produced in England. In its final form it consisted of five separate books, and The Fourth Book was the first wholly English sea-atlas of American waters… Each book or volume has its own independent publishing history and appeared in numerous editions. The five separate books constitute a set only by virtue of the general title, and under that title The English Pilot is the first great sea-atlas produced in England. Of the five books, the fourth had the longest publication history and is the best known… [It] was started by John Seller and completed by William Fisher and John Thornton… Upon Fisher's death in 1691 Richard Mount inherited a share of the firm, and sometime between 1698 and 1702 he was joined by Thomas Page who was related by marriage… This partnership established the firm of Mount and Page, which was to continue through four generations and published The English Pilot… The other major figure involved in producing The Fourth Book was John Thornton… a skilled cartographer and map engraver who produced much of the finest cartographical work done in England at the time… The charts made by Thornton are distinguished by a bold but functional simplicity in design and a clarity of engraving that is equal or superior to anything produced by his contemporaries. At the time he was certainly the most competent and distinguished chart maker in England… Throughout its history, The Fourth Book showed very few changes in textual matter, and the content of the volume was established between the editions of 1706 and 1721… In spite of the dated material which it contained, The Fourth Book was sufficiently in demand to justify thirty-seven legitimate editions from 1689 to 1794… No one publisher or map maker was in a position to produce any work as complex as The English Pilot. The ultimate production of The Fourth Book resulted from a fortunate combination which included a successful printer, with a shop and adequate capital to produce the letterpress, and an equally successful map engraver and printer, with a large stock of cartographical material and suitable map plates… The Fourth Book remains one of the great examples of the chart trade in England with a long publishing history for a simple atlas that has rarely been equaled." (Verner, Bibliographical Note to The Fourth Book). The captain's logbook records twelve voyages during the period of December 23, 1846 through June 4, 1849, aboard the schooners Enterprise and Mary Ann, recording weather, sea state, latitude, trim of the sails, sightings and interactions with other vessels. Most of the voyages name the place of origin and the destination, including: "from Halifax Towards Barbadoes;" "From St Johns Newfoundland towards Bay Chelour," and the return trip; "From Sant Lushea for Jamaco," and the return trip; "From Matanzes towards Halifax;" "From Halifax NS towards Phaleadelpha[sic] UNS [i.e. United States];" "On Bord the Mary Ann from Bay Chalour towards St Johns New Land." A sample entry from sailing out of Jamaica (the spelling has been updated): "Commences with strong breezes. At 1PM Galina Point. Bore NNE, dist. 12 miles. At 6 abreast of Black River. At midnight light winds and variable. At 8 AM South Negril Point. Bore E by N, dist. 20 miles. Latter part moderate breezes and fine weather, people employed taring the rigging." English Pilot lacking the chart "Virginia, Maryland, Pennsilvania, East & West New Jersey." The large folding map of the Western and Southern Oceans (i.e. the North and South Atlantic) with text on fold-out margins explaining how the variably spaced curved lines on the map are to be used to adjust for variations in the magnetic field when taking compass readings. Shirley,1254. The English Pilot with the manuscript captain's logbook were in the possession of a single family for more than 150 years. This edition is quite scarce; we can find no auction records for it in the past 50 years.
Interior of English Pilot generally very clean with only occasional light stains or foxing. Manuscript logbook interior bright with occasional spots and stains; first and last leaves embrowned and weather-stained with expert restoration to top outer corner of first leaf (with loss of two letters); a few other corners restored (with no loss of manuscript text). A very handsomely bound pair, in matching period-style paneled calf gilt, of this pioneering sea atlas of North American navigation and unique logbook of early coastal voyages.