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Du Jourdin, M.M., M. de La Ronciere, M. Azard, I. Raynaud-Nguyen,_and M. Vannereau, Sea Charts of the Earlv Explorers, 13th to 17th Century. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1984. ISBN 0-500-01337-3. 34x24cm., 298pp., illustrated, cloth. (500 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010, $60.00)

Exactly one hundred color plates illustrate the evolution of manuscript sea charts from about 1290 to 1699.  An interesting introductory essay provides general background.  The plates are grouped together, making perusing a pleasure.  After the plates, individual essays provide detailed and scholarly information about the charts illustrated.  One follows the development from early portolan charts to more sophisticated 17th-century navigation charts.  Some of the charts are astonishingly beautiful.  Since the maps illustrated are in museums, and similar material seldom comes on the market, I suspect that many collectors who read this work will come down with mappus interruptus.  One intriguing chart is even loosely attributed to Columbus.  The charts are so beautifully reproduced that I wondered what American printer could do such work.  I was not surprised to discover that the book was printed in Switzerland, where quality remains more than a vaguely remembered concept.  The price is very reasonable, and no collector or dealer purchasing this book will regret it.

David C. Jolly, 1987

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