Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2010 Issue

Important Maps at an Important Time


Lot 67: More gems than Zsa Zsa has fingers

By Bruce McKinney

Frank Benevento did not buy his first important map ten years ago with the idea of becoming a canary in the coal mine in 2010 but circumstances make his sale of 71 important [primarily world] maps in London on May 6th a gut check for the map world. His material goes under the hammer at Sotheby's 34-35 New Bond Street, the right place in an uncertain time, to see if important maps are coming through the recession and recovery intact. Many experts in the field expect it.

Mr. Benevento, of Palm Beach Florida, is recovering from serious illness and sells reluctantly.

Cathy Slowther, who has managed the sale for Sotheby's from negotiation with Mr. Benevento this past year to the calling of the first lot by Roger Griffiths at 2:30 pm in London on May 6th, is cautiously optimistic. "The material is important, the market less certain. I expect both dealers and serious collectors to be contending." The collection was on display in New York during ABAA week and is currently on exhibition in London.

By virtue of its scale and condition lot 67, Joannes Blaeu's Atlas major, eleven bound volumes of maps printed between 1662 and 1681 is attracting wide interest. It contains 589 maps, plans, views and plates; many double-page and all in original color. The set was purchased at the Wardington Sale in 2005 and the "bespoke cabinet by Columbo Mobili of Milan," commissioned shortly thereafter. In this piece important maps and history are combined in a remarkable presentation setting. The estimate is BP 180,000 to 220,000, the set arguably a complete compilation of early maps and images for the collector who, in buying this, wishes to achieve completeness with a single bid. Mr. Benevento spent $300,000 to buy the atlases.

Lot 8, Paolo Forlani's 1570 world map presents another kind of opportunity. Maps provide graphic evidence of the advance of human knowledge of the continents and oceans. As such, the first appearance of continents, islands and names on maps provide collectors with documentation of unfolding discovery. This extremely early map expresses "Terra Incognito" in the southern hemisphere as rivaling the northern continents in scale. It is estimated BP 100,000 to 150,000. Mr. Benevento spent $253,250 to acquire it.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b> Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>

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