Samuel Leigh celestial “Camelopardalis Tarandus and Custos Messium” 1824


Rev. Richard Bloxam. Plate 2: “Camelopardalis Tarandus and Custos Messium.” From Urania’s Mirror, or a View of the Heavens. London: Samuel Leigh, [1824]. Engraved chart mounted on card and with tissue backing. Original hand color. 7 3/4 x 5 3/8. Very good condition. Ref.: Peter Whitfield, The Mapping of the Heavens, pp. 112-13.

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A charming star chart from an ingenious series of celestial images showing the constellations as known in the early nineteenth century. The constellations are each depicted with a delightful zodiac vignette image, the stars also noted, and the entire card is highlighted with bright hand color. What is of particular interest and novelty, though, is the fact that the major stars are also indicated with a pierced hole in the card, letting the star locations shine through when the card is held to a light. Besides the many standard figures of the zodiac, which had long been used for mnemonic devices, many current figures that are no longer used are shown, such as a printing press and an “aerostatique” balloon.

This series was originally said to have been designed by “a lady,” though subsequently it was discovered that they were actually drawn by a teacher at the Rugby School named the Rev. Richard Bloxam.  Bloxam based his images on Alexander Jamieson’s A Celestial Atlas, which had come out just a few years earlier.  Unusual and most attractive.