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The Earliest Printed Nautical Chart of South Africa
Also the First by an Englishman

South Africa. DUDLEY, R. [Florence, 1646]
Carta particolare che comincia con il capo Degortam e con il capo Buona Speranza e finisce in gradi 27 di latitudine Australe. . 18 ¾ x 29 inches
Printed on two sheets, joined as issued. Few faint stains, else fine condition.


A beautiful example of this landmark in the mapping of South Africa. It appeared in Dudley’s Arcano de Mare, “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.” (Tooley, MCC, No. 47, Maps of Africa, p. 37.
The chart includes within the map area coastal recognition views of the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Hangklip (C. Falso on the chart)) and Cape Agulhas (C. D’Anguilas on the chart). All of these were important landmarks for mariners rounding the Cape of Good Hope, and their presence on the chart emphasizes the intent that this be a practical, working chart. As with Dudley’s other charts, this one also gives harbor soundings, describes the currents and the winds, and notes magnetic variation.
Dudley was one of the most colorful figures among early mapmakers. He was the illegitimate son of Robert Dudley, the Earl of Essex, one time paramour of Elizabeth I. This and other familial connections and an interest in the sea put the younger Dudley in contact with the leading explorers of his age, including Drake and Cavendish. However, not able to secure a position commensurate with his abilities in England, due to the circumstances of his birth, Dudley made his way to Florence, where he became a valuable courtier to the Medicis and supervised several important engineering projects. His charts reflect both the advantages of his background as well as his technical skills.

Norwich 245.

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