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Norwich, Oscar I., Maps of Africa. Johannesburg: A.D. Donker (Pty) Ltd., 1983. ISBN 0-86852-028-4. 30x22cm., 444pp., illustrated, cloth. (Hyde Park Corner, Jan Smuts Avenue, Hyde Park, Johannesburg 2196, $120)

Even if you are not a collector of African maps, keep reading.  At first glance, this work appears to be compiled using the map holdings of several large libraries.  In fact, it is based on the personal holdings of the author.  In format, the book contains some introductory material on the mapping of Africa, followed by 345 illustrated entries, each one showing a map with an accompanying description.  An unusual and welcome feature is the relatively large size of the reproductions and the uncluttered format.  If blank space happens to occur at the end of a page, it is permitted to remain there in comfort.  This creates a leisurely atmosphere for the reader, inviting and encouraging a slow, calm perusal of the contents.  Those contents are quite a treat.  One finds Lafreri-style maps of the entire continent by Gastaldi, Foriani, and Duchetti.  Maps by Thevet, Sanuto, de Jode, Quad, and Mercator through Senex, Price, and Overton to Tallis and Johnston illustrate increasing knowledge of the continent.  Subsequent sections feature regional maps, sea charts, town plans, and so on.  The book is naturally of greatest interest to collectors of Africa, but even the general collector might benefit from its comprehensive character.  Since maps by almost all major cartographers appear, the book is essentially a specimen book.  If one wonders what a sea chart by Seller or maps by Migeon or de Solis look like, they are all illustrated.  The publisher and author deserve praise for making this book available.  I suspect that many serious collectors muse about publishing a book featuring their collection.  Since this book pretty well takes care of Africa, anyone so inclined should pick another continent.

David C. Jolly, 1986
 

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