With the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting life across the globe, auctions in the rare book field have slowed down, with many delayed to a date TBA. Not all sales have ceased, however, and one from Arader Galleries is taking place early this month. For collectors of Audubon and high-end cartographic material, April 4th is the date to circle on the calendar. Two hundred and twenty-two lots make up the sale. Bidding on the cheapest item begins at $100, with the highest carrying a reserve of $220,000. Let’s take a look at some of the sale’s highlights.
Although there are several high value Audubon prints coming up for auction, the highest estimated item John Mitchell’s “A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America from 1755. Of the map, AG reports:
The Mitchell map of North America was one of the most accurate of its day, fusing up-to-date information of both British and French sources with the map maker's own research in the Lake Ontario and Lake Erie areas. It was at the request of Lord Halifax and the Board of Trade that he made the famous map, one of the period's outstanding cartographic achievements. Considered by many to be the most important map in American history, Mitchell’s map was the one upon which the boundaries of the new United States first appeared. The year 1755, upon the eve of the French and Indian war, was "the year of the great maps," and one scholar writes that "the greatest of these is unquestionably" the Mitchell map.
Comparable copies have sold at Arader Galleries in 2018 for $201,300 and at Sotheby’s in 2008 for $170,500. This one is estimated $250,000 to $350,000 as lot 165.
Stand out Audubon prints include plate 251 “Brown Pelican” ($175,000 to $225,000), plate 81 “Fish Hawk or Osprey” ($100,000 to $150,000), plate 66 “Ivory-billed Woodpecker” ($80,000 to $120,000), and plate 31 “White-Headed Eagle (Male)” ($35,000 to $50,000). The only thing that even begins to do these justice are images—they’re all part of this article’s slide show!
While Arader Galleries has a reputation for superb maps, Asia is a particularly strong element of this sale. Ferdinand Verbiest’s Asian centric world map “Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu,” printed in Seoul around 1860 is a sight to behold with twelve sheets joined to create a map over six feet tall and eleven and a half feet wide. With perhaps eight copies of the map surviving today, this is a true rarity. Scarcity and scale, however, don’t come cheaply—bidding starts at the reserve of $75,000 as lot 194. If written history is of greater to interest to you, then Juan Gonzales de Mendoza’s The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China: Togither with the great riches, huge Citties, politike government, and rare inventions in the same might be a better match. This is the first English edition, translated from the Spanish by Robert Parke and printed in London in 1588. The work is also highly desirable because it features the first appearance of Chinese characters (three in total) in a European book. Bidding for lot 128 begins at $85,000 and is estimated $100,000 to $150,000.
Arader Galleries’ April Auction will begin at 1pm Eastern on April 4th, 2020. Live bidding will take place at the Gallery on Madison Avenue, while telephone, absentee and online bidding are also offered. The entire catalogue is viewable on Live Auctioneers here.