|Dimensions||224 x 320 mm, Plate 230 x 325 mm, Sheet 315 x 370 mm|
A view of the Fort and settlement of Elmina, in modern-day Ghana, from the German edition of Dapper's Naukeurige Beschrijvinge der Afrikaensche Gewesten, commonly known as the Description of Africa. The prospect, taken from the Gulf of Guinea looking back towards the coast, shows the two major landmarks of the town, the Castle of São Jorge, and Fort São Tiago, prominently. At the time of engraving, the Fort was less than a decade old. The rest of the town, mostly made up of African housing, stretches off to the left. Elmina, meaning simply 'The Mine,' was the earliest European settlement in West Africa, having been established by the Portuguese in 1478 following their defeat of a Castilian armada off the Ghanaian coast. As the name would suggest, the original draw for colonial exploitation was gold, though slavery became the port's most famous and enduring legacy.
Olfert Dapper's 'Description of Africa' was an ethnographic book which offered a detailed description of the parts of Africa known to Europeans in the mid-seventeenth century. Despite the work being regarded as one of the most important and detailed seventeenth-century publications on Africa, Dapper himself never actually visited the continent. Instead, he relied on the reports of Jesuit missionaries and Dutch explorers. The 'Description of Africa' was first published in 1668 by Jacob van Meurs in Amsterdam, with a second Dutch edition appearing in 1676. In 1670, a German translation of the publication was issued, and in the same year, an English translation, which is generally attributed to John Ogilby. A French edition was published in 1676, although it was not as true to the original as the other translations.
Olfert Dapper (1636 - 1689) was a Dutch physician and writer. Despite never travelling outside of the Netherlands, Dapper was a writer of world history and geography.
Condition: Central vertical fold, as issued. Minor time toning to sheet. Chip to bottom left corner of sheet, not affecting plate. Blank on verso.