As is common these days, the Upcoming Auctions calendar on AE is chock-full for May. The amount of material to browse can be overwhelming, and month to month, we try to write about several auctions per month appealing to specific collector niches. One such auction taking place this month is Old World Auctions’ second of its four annual auctions, Sale #149. Serious cartography collectors should already be familiar with Old World as that subject is the house focus, but in case you’re not on their mailing list, take note. Accepting bids online May 7th through the 21st, the auction will focus on antique maps and atlases, with historical books with maps, geography books, globes, antique prints, illuminated manuscripts, and reference books included for sale as well. Old World has stated that while a wide variety of geographies are included, exemplary selections of maps of the World, Western Hemisphere, Africa, the Republic of Texas, and New York are the sale’s strengths. Other highly desirable atlases include those by Speed/Kaerius, Ruscelli, Cluver, and Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. Historically, items sold at Old World go in the middle range, with items listed in the hundreds, and as well thousands of dollars.
Here are ten featured maps for Sale #149, which are but a scratch on the surface of the 800 or so lots being offered:
- Blaeu's Magnificent Carte-a-Figures World Map in Full Original Color. Willem Blaeu, Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabula, 1635. Estimate $14000 - $16000.
- Hondius' Important Map of the Americas in Full Original Color. Jodocus Hondius, America, 1630. Estimate $4750 - $6000.
- Fascinating Cross-Section of the Earth. Athanasius Kircher, Systema Ideale Quo Exprimitur, Aquarum per Canales Hydragogos Subterraneos..., 1682. Estimate $1600 - $1800.
- One of the Most Decorative Early Maps of Africa. Linschoten/Langren, Typus Orarum Maritimarum Guineae, Manicongo, & Angolae…, 1596. Estimate $4000 - $4750.
- Depiction of the Republic of Texas. David H. Burr, The United States of Mexico, 1837. Estimate $500 - $650.
- One of the Most Decorative and Sought-After 19th Century Plans of New York. John Tallis, New York, 1851. Estimate $1000 - $1300.
- Map of Puerto Rico from One of the Most Famous Island Books of the 16th Century. Tomaso Porcacchi, S. Giovanni, 1586. Estimate $350 - $450.
- Adrichom's Influential Bird's-Eye Plan of Jerusalem. Christian van Adrichom, Ierusalem et Suburbia Eius, Sicut Tempore Christi Floruit..., 1682. Estimate $2000 - $2300.
- A Very Early Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. Atlas. Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., A New Universal Atlas Containing Maps of the Various Empires, Kingdoms, States and Republics of the World..., 1852. Estimate $3000 - $4000.
- Very Rare Italian Sea Flags Published in Sanson's "Le Neptune Francois". Pierre Mortier, Pavillon d'Italie &c. / Italiaanse Vlaggen &c., 1693. Estimate $950 - $1200.
If you’re on Old World’s mailing list, you also recently received an article by Eliane Dotson, a co-owner and operator of the house, on strategies for both buyers and sellers at auction. She highlights concepts that my dad Bruce has applied in both of his past auctions. First, that sellers providing as much information as possible about items is highly important. Doing so decreases the risk for buyers to participate in bidding and also gives them better capabilities to make their own assessments of value. Secondly, while historically higher starting prices have created a higher perceived value, known as the anchoring effect, studies (the one cited in Eliane’s article is available in full here) have shown that lower starting prices encourage more bidders to participate and can also convey a higher perceived value because of the number of bids tied to the increased number of participants. On the other hand, specialized niche items may benefit more from higher starting prices as the bidder base is inherently smaller for these types of material.
For potential buyers, Eliane covers risk tolerance first—“determined by how critical it is that the buyer win the item, as well as how important it is that the buyer avoid the ‘winner's curse,’ which occurs when the buyer pays more than the true value of the item.” After determining that tolerance, a bidding strategy is commonly applied. Two such strategies are discussed, “squatting” and “jump bidding.” Squatting involves bidding early, aggressively, and often, while not bidding the minimum since it encourages competition. The second tactic, jump bidding, is a method of placing a bid much higher than the current bidding pattern, which conveys a potential buyer’s strong interest. In live auction settings, it has the psychological effect of making competitors consider whether or not they value the item as much as their competition. In an online auction setting, such as Old World’s, bidders have the option of placing a high maximum bid. Other bidders who then place bids are immediately outbid on each, an effective discouragement; that is, of course, until they reach and pass the high number. Don’t go to an auction without a plan!
Here are details specific to Old World Auctions’ methods of conducting sales.
Per Old World, interested bidders must register on their website at https://www.oldworldauctions.com/ssl/register.asp. Their auctions feature a 10-minute rule at the close of the auction, keeping lots with active bidding open for an additional 10 minutes, until there are no bids on the lot for a full 10 minutes. All packaging and shipping is done in-house, shipping to over 70 countries each year. All items in the sale are on consignment, and they work with an international group of consignors consisting of collectors, dealers, and other qualified individuals, many of whom have been working with Old World for over 10 years. Four auctions are held yearly, this being the second, with approximately 800 lots per sale. The final two will take place in September and November. Old World adheres to a strict code of ethics, offering superior customer service as well as a 100% money back guarantee on the authenticity and condition of every item in the auction.
Here is link to the Old World website