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Eye On the Sky: Richard Proctor and Star Maps

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Courtney and I are frequently asked by customers to find unique prints and maps of very specific images (horses on fox hunts, maps that include specific historic townships, black cockatoos, to name a few), but we’re most frequently asked if we have a customer’s zodiac sign. Maps of the Heavens are something that we try to keep on hand if possible, but one artist stands out as particularly interesting to us: Richard A. Proctor. 

 

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Star Map from 1874, $75

 

Proctor was an English writer, publisher, and, (though not officially) an astronomer. He's most distinctly know for one of the earliest map of Mars, which he created from drawings English observer William Rutter Dawes. He was born in 1837, in Chelsea, England, and was raised by his mother, who oversaw his tutelage, after Proctor’s father passed away. He attended Kings College London and St. John’s College, and after he graduated, He published his first book in 1865, entitled Saturn and Its Systems. Proctor wrote for a variety of publications, as well as self publishing his own books. In 1881, he released his own weekly publication entitled Knowledge, which gained a relatively wide circulation.


We’ve been lucky enough to have star maps drawn by Proctor on several occasions. The first time we came across them, they were from A Star Atlas, published in 1879. We currently only have one from this specific printing still available; it comes framed in locally reclaimed cherry wood, with UV protective glass.

 

Star Map from 1879, Reclaimed Cherry Frame, $200 

 

We also have a. earlier printing from 1874; these pieces depict the various constellations in the night skies of the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Printed on cotton rag paper, this earlier printing has very little discoloration, due to the chemical make up of the paper itself. The hand-coloring is exceptionally well done: the detail in each constellation shows the minor details that highlight the constellation’s subject the best.

 

Hand-Colored Constellation Maps, $25

 

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