Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2017 Issue

May 9: Maps and Atlases Take Center Stage at Sotheby's London

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Highlights from Sotheby's May 9 sale of Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History

This month I’ve written three previews of international sales, one of which is Sotheby’s sale of Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History on May 9, 2017 in London. One hundred twenty-eight lots are on offer, and maps and atlases threaten to steal the show—Sotheby’s describes the sale as offering “some of the greatest Dutch atlases ever produced.” Nine of the ten highest estimated items are cartographic, and they are indeed extraordinary.

 

Dutch maps and atlases cannot be discussed without the name Blaeu immediarely coming to mind. Three of the auctions top ten items are from Johannes Blaeu, including collaboration with his father on one. Archipelagus Orientalis Sive Asiaticus is a large wall map (158.7cm x 117.4cm) from 1659 by Johannes depicting Southeast Asia and Australia, with inset maps of Borin and the Solomon Islands. This is an extremely rare map in the presented state, which includes an imprint of Blaeu in three languages. Sotheby’s notes that the copy being auctioned is possibly one of two known surviving copies, and that no other records of sale were found during research. The area shown on the map is also an excellent example of Dutch sea power in Asia during the 17th century, containing all discoveries in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. This impressive wall map carries an estimate of £200,000 to £250,000 as lot 93. The following lot, no. 94, is also a 1659 Blaeu wall map of Asia, but one of the main continent (est. £60,000 – 80,000). And following Archipelagus Orientalis Sive Asiaticus in high estimation is a work by Johannes and his father Willem. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Sive Atlas Novus in Quo Tabulae et Descriptiones Omnium Regionum is a five-volume set of atlases printed beteen 1640 and 1654 with 392 maps total, most of which are double-page. Volume V, containing Scotland and Ireland, is the first separate atlas of Scotland ever produced. The name Blaeu is renowned for the maps associated, and these atlases are superb examples. The five-volume set is estimated £100,000 to £150,000 as lot 24.

 

Continuing in the theme of “some of the greatest Dutch atlases ever produced,” lot 25 is a work begun by the Flemmish map maestro Gerard Mercator, and completed by Flemish and Dutch cartographer and engraver Jodocus Hondius (the elder). Hondius is well known for helping to redeem the reputation of Mercator, and the item in question, l'Atlas ou Méditations Cosmographiques de la Fabrique du Monde et Figure Diceluy, certainly played a role. Work was started by Mercator in 1595, and in 1604 Hondius bought his plates. Two years later, the first Amsterdam edition of the Mercator atlas was published. The edition being offered at Sotheby’s is the second French text edition (1613), and the first French edition to be published after Hondius’ death the preceding year. The work of Mercator is exceeding desirable today as he is universally regarded as a titan of cartography—we have him to thank for the usage of “atlas,” and his 1595 work was the first collection of maps to carry the name. An estimate of £60,000 to £80,000

 

There are many other maps worth discussing, and collectors with the income to bid on top items will undoubtedly already be aware of Sotheby’s offering. A rare hand-colored copy of John Speed’s The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain and Prospect, as well as two maps of China are among some of these maps of note.

Also related to China is lot 128, being John Thomson’s Illustrations of China And Its People. A Series of Two Hundred Photographs, with Letterpress Descriptions of the Places and People Represented. Thomson was the first known photographer to document the people and land of China for publication in the west. This first edition from 1873-1874 contains 96 plates (some with multiple photos) and is one of the most detailed and thorough photographic documentations of 19th century China. Of his work and goal, Thomson writes in the introduction:

My design in the accompanying work is to present a series of pictures of China and its people, such as shall convey an accurate impression of the country I traversed as well as the arts, usages, and manners which prevail in different provinces of the Empire. With this intention I made the camera the constant companion of my wanderings, and to it I am indebted for the faithful representation of the scenes I visited and the types of races I came into contact.

Thomsom’s work is estimated £20,000 to £30,000.

 

Shifting gears for a last time, lot 20 is Thomas Uwins’ A Collection of 240 Drawings of Costume Designs for Rudolph Ackermann’s Repository of Arts Magazine. Bound in three volumes, these are not prints, but the original drawings in pencil with watercolor. For collectors of fashion history, these drawings are unique and influenced western fashion during the early 19th century. Uwins’ work for Ackermann is also estimated £20,000 to £30,000.

 

The sale’s catalog can be viewed on Sotheby’s website here.

 

Sotheby’s sale of Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History takes place May 9, 2017 in London at 2 pm British summer time. Exhibition times are the following:

  • Fri, 05 May 17 | 09:00 AM - 04:30 PM BST
  • Sat, 06 May 17 | 12:00 PM - 05:00 PM BST
  • Sun, 07 May 17 | 12:00 PM - 05:00 PM BST
  • Mon, 08 May 17 | 09:00 AM - 04:30 PM BST

 

Bidding is available through the normal means: live in person, absentee, telephone, and online. Logging in with an existing account or registering with Sotheby’s is required.

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Copper Printing Plate for "Marshall's Household Engraving of Washington." $500 to $1000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Important Documentary Painting Showing Baseball Great Ty Cobb in Cuba. $1,000 to $2,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> <i>Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age</i>, Inscribed by Bill Wilson. $500 to $1,000
    <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983), <i>Prise à l'hameçon.</i> $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Maurice Dufrène (French, 1876-1955), <i>Rayon des Soieries</i>. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> William Pope.L (American, b. 1955), <i>Intimacy Project</i>. $2,000 to $4,000
  • <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Collection of 131 Herbert Ponting gelatin silver contact prints of Antartica, £6000-8000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of several lots of Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin silver prints, £200-300
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Vintage gelatin silver print of Diego Rivera by Leonard McCombe, £300-500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Sir John Herschel (April, 1867), £30,000-50,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron, Love, 1864 (from the Norman album), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Lewis Carroll of Twyford School Eleven (Summer Term, 1859), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Lewis Carroll of Xie Kitchin as 'Dane' (Oxford, 1873), £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Calotype print (c1845) by Hill & Adamson of Lady Elizabeth (Rigby) Eastlake, £3000-4000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Group of 12 waxed paper negatives of Scottish scenes by Thomas Keith, mid-1850s, £3000-5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of 15 lots of Roger Fenton salt prints of his work in the Crimea, mid-1850s, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Quarter plate ambrotype (c.1860s) with ethnographic portrait of a woman seated at a table, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Rare whole plate thermoplastic union case of the Landing of Columbus (c.1858),part of the John Hannavy collection, £1500-2000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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