Description

    First Edition of John Ogilby's Monumental Work on Africa

    John Ogilby. Africa: Being an Accurate Description of the Regions of Ægypt, Barbary, Lybia, and Billedulgerid, The Land of Negroes, Guinee, Æthiopia, and the Abyssines, With all the Adjacent Islands, either in the Mediterranean, Atlantick, Southern, or Oriental Sea, belonging thereunto. With the several Denominations of their Coasts, Harbors, Creeks, Rivers, Lakes, Cities, Towns, Castles, and Villages. Their Customs, Modes, and Manners, Languages, Religions, and Inexhaustible Treasure; With their Governments and Policy, variety of Trade and Barter, And also of their Wonderful Plants, Beasts, Birds, and Serpents. Collected and Translated from the most Authentic Authors, And Augmented with later Observations; Illustrated with Notes, and Adorn'd with peculiar Maps, and proper Sculptures, by John Ogilby Esq; Master of His Majesties Revels in the Kingdom of Ireland. London: Printed by Tho. Johnson for the Author, and are to be had at his House in White Fryers, 1670.

    First edition of Ogilby's handsome work on Africa, largely based on the work of Dutch geographer Olfert Dapper, but with a few additions for the English readership. Large folio (15.875 x 10.5 inches; 403 x 266 mm.). [16], 767, [1, directions to the binder] pages. With the scarce half-title describing this as the first volume of the English atlas.

    Added engraved title, large double-page folding engraved map of Africa, fifty-seven engraved plates and maps (forty-three of which are double-page, four single-page), and ten half-sheet engravings, not called for in the list of plates, but present in most copies, sometimes found on five sheets, forty-six engravings in the text, and nine leaves of letterpress tables (printed on one side only) inserted.

    Three engraved head-pieces and three engraved initials by Wenceslaus Hollar, decorative and historiated woodcut initials and head-pieces, typographic head-and tail-pieces. Title-page printed in red and black. Plate captions in Dutch and English.

    Contemporary cat's paw calf, neatly rebacked, with original spine laid down, and with corners renewed. Spine elaborately tooled in gilt in compartments with six raised bands and red morocco label decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt. Some occasional faint, mostly marginal, dampstaining, and occasional foxing or browning, especially to the engraved plates. Small ink spot on page 613, affecting a couple of letters. Tiny wormhole in the text from Fff3 to the end (pages 605-[768]), sometimes affecting a letter or two, becoming larger at the end. A few minor marginal paper flaws. Verso of final leaf darkened and stained. Some bleeding of the marbled edges onto text pages (verso of final leaf and rear flyleaf). Short tear to the rear flyleaf, two small holes in the rear free endpaper. Front pastedown with armorial bookplate of Sir James Colquhoun of Luss, Bart. (1738-1811); armorial bookplate (of John Stuart?) with motto "Salus per Christum Redemptorem;" and bookplate of John Ralph Willis. Early ink note at the foot of the rear free endpaper. A complete, handsome copy, generally very clean and crisp.

    In his Preface to Africa, Ogilby wrote: "When, as in my former Acquisitions, I shew first at the highest and best Poetick Authors, so now as much ambitious, I pitch'd upon the like Accomplishment in Prose, and no less serves my turn, than the Reducement of the whole World, viz., A New and Accurate Description of the Four Regions thereof, the first of which being AFRICA; wherein, having made some Progress, still Collecting more Materials toward the Compleating [or completing?] of so great a Work, a Volume lately Publish'd beyond Sea in Low-Dutch, came to my hands, full of new Discoveries, being my chief and onely Business to enquire after, set forth by Dr. O. Dapper, a Discreet and Painful Author, whose large Addition, added to my own Endeavours, hath much Accelerated the Work."

    This book is mainly a translation from Dr. Olfert Dapper's 1668 Naukeurige Beshryvinge der Afrikaenesche gewesten...but Ogilby added tales of English interest, such as the attack on the "Mary Rose" specifically for the English market. Most of the plates are printed from the originals belonging to Jacob van Meurs and used in Dapper's work, but Ogilby used sheets one-third larger than Dapper's, which made the volume more impressive. He also inserted five additional plates: "Tangiers" by Robert White (Tangiers was acquired in 1661 and Ogilby refers to it as the King's "own Bright Star"); "Capt. Kempthorne's Engagement, in the Mary-Rose, with seven Algier Men of War" by Wenceslaus Hollar (Pennington 1247), an incident at sea that Hollar himself experienced on his way back to England in 1669; and three pyramid illustrations from John Greaves's (Pyramidographia: or A Description of the Pyramids in Aegypt (London: 1646). Hollar also engraved a portrait of the Emperor of Morocco, "Muley Arsheid Zeriff" facing page 159 (Pennington 1472), two engraved head-pieces, including the head-piece on page 1, with a map of Africa on a stretched lion's skin, with an elephant at left and a rhinoceros at right (Pennington 644), and three engraved initials (Pennington 2692 and 2713). One plate is signed by R. Zeeman.

    "After the great fire of 1666 (in which he lost much of his own stock) [Ogilby] was appointed one of the city's assistant surveyors, a position that brought him into contact with Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren. He published his Embassy to China in 1669, and it was at this time that he conceived of a series of atlases to cover the whole world, to be funded through lotteries, subscription plans, and advertisements. The first, Africa, appeared in 1670. Others followed soon after: Atlas Japannensis (1670), America (1671), Atlas Chinensis (1671), and Asia (1673). These were not the fruits of Ogilby's own work but rather well-produced compilations of extant translations and others' accounts, a common practice at that time. His and others' work in this sense thus both reflected and directed growing public interest in distant places and foreign peoples. Ogilby secured the additional title of his majesty's cosmographer early in 1671. It is clear that he again drew upon the support of the king and other patrons in the production and publication of Britannia...an illustration of the kingdom of England and dominion of Wales: by a geographical and historical description of the principal roads thereof (1675), the work for which he became best known" (ODNB). Like his other folio works, Ogilby's geographical and topographical works are valued for their accomplished copperplate engraving of maps, plans, and illustrations.

    "An English translation of Dapper was issued in 1669-70 by the well-known compiler and publisher, John Ogilby. Since Dapper's name does not appear on the title page, while Ogilby's does, the version is often known as 'Ogilby's Africa.' In his Preface, Ogilby claimed that he had begun to collect material on Africa before encountering Dapper's work, and that his book consisted of this originally-collected material, together with 'large additions' from Dapper. The section on Sierra Leone and Cape Mount (pp. 368-412) is wholly and merely a translation of Dapper. The English text is an almost complete translation of the Dutch and only a little less complete than the German version...The translation attempts a more literary style than the crabbed Dutch original and is not above occasional colorful paraphrasing. By the standards of the time, the translation is on the whole a reasonable one " (P. E. H. Hair, "Barbot, Dapper, Davity: A Critique of Sources on Sierra Leone and Cape Mount," History in Africa, Vol. 1 (1974), pp. 26-27.
    Alden/Landis 670/48. Cox I, page 361. ESTC R22824. Hazlitt II, 432. Ibrahim-Hilmy I.155. Lowndes, p. 1719. Mendelssohn (1979) III, page 571. Playfair, Algeria, 151. Schuchard, Ogilby, 20. Tooley, Africa, 87. Wing O163 (and D241). Wolf, Negro History, 4.


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