Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2011 Issue

Very Early Maps from Martayan Lan

Very early maps from Martayan Lan.

Martayan Lan, the noted New York map seller, has issued their Catalogue 45 - Early & Rare World Maps, Atlases & Rare Books. Mainly from a Private Collection. We will focus on the earliest, though everything here is early, and most very early. Of the 31 items offered, 28 were printed before 1600. These maps may not provide accurate directions for travelers today, but they do reveal what people believed the world to be during the earliest years of the Age of Discovery. They reveal the rapid progress in learning that took place during the 16th century, when the world to Europeans expanded from Europe, and a not well understood Africa and Asia, to a much better defined place that now included the Americas. Here are some of the earliest of these early maps.

 

There is no more appropriate place to start than the first printed map. It is a map of the world, though it is a small, undetailed, and undifferentiated map. Originally created almost a millennium earlier by Isidore Bishop of Seville, it was reproduced in Etymologiae, an encyclopedic type of work. This is what is known as a TO map, and it's about as primitive as it gets. It consists of a circle with a T inside. On the left side of the staff of the T is Europe, to the right Africa. Above the crossbar of the T is Asia. The staff represents the Mediterranean Sea, the crossbar some vague combination of waterways such as the Nile and Black Sea. The O, which surrounds the map, represents the oceans. The only other notations on the map are directions. The T-shape of the dividers undoubtedly represents religious symbolism, being a similar shape to a cross. Item 1. Priced at $100,000.

 

The second item in the catalogue is the one Martayan Lan describes as the first "acquirable, realistic printed map of the world." It is from the 1478 Roman Ptolemy. It provides a surprisingly realistic depiction of Europe, northern Africa, and eastern Asia. It is a map Columbus would have used, and it implied a smaller world, encouraging Columbus to believe the route to Asia heading west was far shorter than it is. $175,000.

 

The changes displayed in item 3 are subtle, yet enormously important. This is taken from the 1482 edition of Cosmographi Geographia. It is the first map to show the earliest knowledge gained during the Age of Discovery. There was no New World yet, no Columbus. However, what has been incorporated is knowledge gained from early Portuguese explorations off the west coast of Africa. The Portuguese had discovered the Cape Verde and other islands, and this map also shows the newly acquired knowledge that the coastline of Africa turned to a southeasterly direction as one headed farther south. Prior maps had cut off the continent before ever reaching that point. $65,000.

 

Item 5 is far more than a map. It is an account of the world from Creation through its time of publication - 1493. This is Hartmann Schedel's Nuremberg Chronicle, an amazingly thorough history of the world for its time. From a cartographic standpoint, it offers the last of the maps of the pre-Columbian world, that is, a world map without the New World. $225,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions