Riding the wave


The Mount & Page publishing firm

Among the publishers who produced charts for the Merchant Navy, "Mount & Page were famous, since the early eighteenth century. In the second half of the century they produced an atlas/pilot book of the Atlantic, from Ireland to Scotland to the islands of Cape Verde. It was entitled The / English Pilot / for the / Southern Navigation / descending the / Sea Coasts, Capes, Headlands, Bays, Roads, Harbours, / Rivers and Ports: / together with the / Soundings, Sands, Rocks, and Dangers / on the / Coasts of England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Flanders, / Spain, Portugal, to the Streight's - Mouth; with the / Coasts of Barbary, and off to the Canary, Madeirs, / Cape de Verde and Western Islands. / Shewing the / Courses and Distances from one Place to another; the / Setting of the Tides and Currents; the Ebbing and / Flowing of the Sea, Ec./ London: / Printed for J. Mount, T. Page, and W. Mount, / on Tower - Hill. / M.DCC.LXXVI. (The book is available at the Italian Navy Hydrographic Institute).

The first English Pilot, compiled by John Seller in 1671-72 in two volumes bound in one, each with its own title, published by John Darby, was reprinted in several editions for a few decades. The work was then re-edited by John Thornton in four volumes, in 1703, and had still a remake in 1708 by the publisher Mount & Page - in cooperation with Samuel Thornton, John's son - who published additional improved versions by the end of the century. The pilot book described here (Genoa, Hydrographic Institute of Navy), includes the First Book of 1776, of 92 pages and 25 maps, dated 1778, and the Fourth Book of 66 pages and 25 maps.

The Channel (detail)
mm. 845 x 420, graphic scale in English and French leagues.
In the cartouche on the left "A new Chart / of the / British Channel / Extending from North Foreland, to Scilly Isles &c. / on the English Shore: / and from Dunkirk to Ushent, on the French. / Collected from Accurate Surveys. / Whereunto are added the Flowing of the tydes / & Setting of the Currents, as they where observed / by Capt. Edm.d Halley / Sold by I. Mount and T. Page on Tower Hill / London ". The chart is undated but the fact that E. Halley is cited as the author dates it to the beginning of 1700. It was probably published in The English Pilot of John Thornton in 1703, and was then inserted by Mount & Page in their atlases up to the end of the century. Above it has views of the Scilly Isles and of Lizard, Cornwall.

On page 5 there are profiles from Dunwich to Blakeney, the Walderswick - Southwould one being particularly significant, which is a coastal view actually conceived as a tiny coastal chart, because of the number of nautical information contained in it: thick bottoms, points of good anchorage marked with a small anchor, and an arrow indicating North.

England, east coast. The English Pilot includes, according to the recurrent use of time, inaccurate coastal profiles, complementing the description of the coast.
On p. 80 there is "A Map of the River Taie to Lisbon Done from a New Survey",i.e., a chart from the mouth of the Tagus to Lisbon, engraved by S. Parker. Although a plan, the riverbanks are traced - according to a custom still common in the eighteenth century - in the guise of a perspective view, as would see it those who sailed along the river, so that on the chart the features of the left bank are drawn upside down.