John Thornton (1641 - 1706)
Very rare chart of Indonesian Borneo, Kalimantan, from Samuel Thornton’s edition of; The Third Book Defcribing the Sea-Coafts, Capes, Headlands, Streights, Soundings, Sands, Shoals, Rocks, and Dangers, by Samuel Thornton with his name and address at the “Signe of England Scotland and Ireland in the Minories London. The
Third Book of The English Pilot, was conceived by John Seller as a sea atlas of the world divided into four volumes and sold separately. In 1672, Seller was granted a remarkable royal privilege which gave him copyright protection for 30 years and restricted the importation of any books that might compete with the Pilot. Seller intended the Third Book to be the first complete seaman’s guide of Indian and far eastern waters to be published in England. With its detailed sea charts, extensive sailing directions and coastal profiles, it became the principal aid to English navigation in Asia.
The Third Book was to have an extraordinarily complicated publishing history with ten editions issued between 1703 and 1761. After John Thornton’s death in early 1708, his son Samuel issued an edition of the Third Book in 1711 and following his death in 1715, the Third Book became the property of Mount and Page who issued eight editions between 1716 and 1761. Of the thirty-five charts in the 1703 edition, twenty-seven were reprinted from the original plates, with occasional minor alterations in all editions.
All of Thornton’s charts are rare due to their use on board ships. Interestingly, the last edition of the Third Book was carried by James Cook on his first voyage of discovery and after using the chart of Java, he wrote “a very good Chart in which everything seems to be very accurately delineated.”
Biography: John Thornton (1641-1708) Mapmaker,
publisher and engraver. Born in London in 1641 and apprenticed to the
chartmaker John Burston 19 November 1656. He joined the partnership
which took over the “English Pilot” project from John Seller in 1677,
and apparently taking over the rights in 1679. He supplied Samuel Pepys
with books on navigation as well as charts, and was asked by Pepys to
compare the various maritime atlases available in 1693.
John Thornton (1641-1708)
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