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JOHN SELLER [ca. 1630-1697]

Many of the charts in this section are from John Seller's shop, located near the Tower of London in Wapping, an insalubrious and noisy sailors' neighborhood on the north shore of the Thames. In the local pubs and coffeehouses, crews arriving in Wapping with the latest news of distant places such as the West Indies exchanged information with other sailors, mapmakers, and ships' suppliers, and provided Seller with information critical to his nautical chart business. Seller's mapmaking shop became a center of nautical learning, offering 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."

Although as a Baptist and nonconformist Seller was found guilty of conspiring to kill King Charles II, he was reprieved, possibly at the behest of the King's brother James, the Duke of York. Ironically, Seller was appointed Hydrographer by Charles II in 1671, and also served under James II and William III. As the King's Hydrographer, Seller was granted a 30-year privilege giving him a monopoly on publishing nautical atlases in England. Over his long career, Seller published a variety of titles, often in numerous editions, such as Praxis Nautica, or Practical Navigation (1669); Atlas Maritimus (1669); An epitome of the art of navigation (1681); and Atlas Terrestris (1676). While his maps often lack beauty and finesse, Seller contributed significantly to English cartography by helping to establish the market for English-language maps and charts and encouraging the growth of the cartographic industry in 17th-century England.


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EPO, 1998