Seller & Senex’s Stelleri Zodiacus Stellatus – 8 Double Page Folio Celestial Engravings


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Stelleri Zodiacus Stellatus

This remarkable celestial atlas is John Seller & John Senex’s Stelleri Zodiacus Stellatus. It charted Edmund Halley’s southern hemisphere stars and visualized the new coordinates of John Flamsteed. The work was published in London between 1675 and 1721 by Senex et. al.

The work features eight double-paged engraved celestial and astronomical charts with later professional hand-coloring. They are loose from the binding which are contemporary marbled board with vellum spine. Provenance is gathered from the bookplate of Macclesfield Library on the inside upper cover. George Parker, the 2nd Earl of Macclesfield, was also an astronomer that entered the Royal Society in 1722 just as Senex would be publishing the Halley and Flamsteed charts.

It is a very rare collection of English astronomy charts from the cartographers, John Seller and John Senex. The volume was likely to be assosicated with Seller’s Atlas Coelestis which he advertised but has never been definitively identified.

Four of the charts date from the 1670s from the shop of John Seller. These are the two of the stars of the Northern hemispher, one of the star sof the southern hemisphere, and one of the zodiac maps. It includes Seller’s 1679 Zodiacus stellatus which was “the first published zodiac” described as “being very useful, at all times, to find out the places of the Planets; wherein may be seen their daily motion, and their appulses to the Fixed stars. Accurately laid down by the said Mr. Edmund Halley.” (Warner, p. 233, no. 3)

The other four charts are from the shop of John Senex dating to about 1721. They are two maps of the northern sky and two maps of the souther sky. These are the work of John Flamsteed who had been tasked with “dragging positional astronomy into the seventeenth century, of bringing it abreast of the new descriptive astronomy to which the telescope has thus far been almost exclusively applied.” (DSB, vol. 5&6, p. 23) Flamsteed’s observations contributed to the known number of northern stars increasing by 2000. “Flamsteed’s catalogue, developed from telescopic observations, was the first to include seventh-magnitude stars [and] Senex’s maps, based on Flamsteed’s catalogues, were the first depicting these telescopic stars … The positions of novas (i.e., new and variable stars) and nebulas on Senex’s maps were derived from Halley’s two review articles published in Philosophical Transactions in 1715 and 1716. Thus the north equatorial map shows four new stars and two telescopic nebulas.” (Warner, p. 242)

Flamsteed was a perfectionist in his work and did not want his work published until he was ready, but Isaac Newton managed to published some of his work in 1712. Flamsteed managed to destroy most of the copies by 1714, but it’s strongly believed Senex had seen his unpublished work and may have interpreted this into his The Britannick Catalogue published by Dr. Edmund Halley. “Through the charts and globes of Senex … the Halley/Flamsteed catalog was widely available. Even after 1729, when the authorized version of Flamsteed’s atlas appeared, because of the convenience of the single-sheet maps and their relatively low cost, Senex’s maps continued to be popular both with astronomers and navigators.” (Warner, p. 239) Thus this atlas presented here represents an interesting part of the state of English astronomy and the workings of the scientists and publishers. “The internal relations between scientists, cartographers, publishers, and dealers were often so complex as to obscure the specific contributions of each.” (Warner, p. 237)

List of plates:

1. Stellarum fixarum hemisphaerium Boreale. The Northern Hemisphere Projected on the Plane of the Aequator in which all the Stars contain’d in the Britannick Catalogue (as Publish’d by Dr. Halley) are carefully laid down and adapted to the beginning of the year 1690. London, John Senex, c. 1721. (Warner p. 242, no. 4A).

2. Stellarum fixarum hemisphaerium Australe. The Southern Hemisphere Projected on the Plane of the Aequator in which all the Stars contain’d in the Britannick Catalogue and those Observ’d by Sr. Edm. Halley at the Isl. of St. Helena are carefully layd down for the Year 1690 by Joseph Harris…, engraved and sold by John Senex. London, John Senex, c. 1721. (Warner, p. 243, no. 4B).

3. Stellarum fixarum hemisphaerium Boreale, in quo omnes stellae in Catalogo Britannico descriptae in plano Eclipticae, eo situ quem anno 1690… Delineavit et sculpsit Johan: Senex. R.S.S. London, John Senex, c. 1721. (Warner, p. 243, no. 5A).

4. Stellarum fixarum hemisphaerium Australe, in plano Eclipticae depictum, omnes catalogi Britannici stellas exhibens, una cum iis quas Cl. Halleius in insula Stae. Helenae observavit, co situ delineatas quem anno 1690 habuerunt. London, John Senex, c. 1721. (Warner, p. 243, no. 5B).

5. A Coelestiall Planisphere by J. Seller. John Seller, London, c. 1675. (Warner, p. 233, no. 2).

6. The Right Ascensions and Declinations of the Principal Fixed Stars in both Hemisphears to ye year 1678… printed and sold by John Seller. John Seller, London, 1679. (Warner, p. 107, no. 1a and p. 236, no. 4A).

7. Australis Hemisphaerii tabulam. John Seller, London, 1679. (Warner, p. 107, no. 1B [Halley] and p. 236, no. 4B [Seller]).

8. Zodiacus stellatus cujus limitibus Planetarum Omnium visibles viae comprehenduntur. Autore Jo: Seller Serenissimi Reg. Hydrographo. John Seller, London, 1679. (Warner, p. 233, no. 3).

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