In the News

The Morgan Acquires Drawings by Major African-American Artists from the South

New York—The Morgan is excited to announce that it is expanding its collection—one of... read more

Illustrations from Treasured Children's Literature at Swann on December 6

New York - Swann Galleries continues their auction season with Illustration Art on Thursday,... read more

Minnesota Center for Book Arts Announces "New Editions" Book Art Event

Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) invites the community to attend New Editions, a... read more

Manuscript of Gettysburg Address on Display at Library of Congress for 155th Anniversary

On Nov. 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The... read more

Potter & Potter's December 1 Vintage Travel Poster Event

Chicago — Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce its 750 lot Vintage... read more

The Holy Grail of Glenn Gould Manuscripts at Bonhams

New York - On December 5, Bonhams Books and Manuscripts sale will offer Glenn... read more

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Acquires Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Archive

New York — The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at The New... read more

Russian Literary First Editions Coming up at Christie’s

London--On 28 November, Christie’s will present the single owner auction Russian Literary First Editions... read more

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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide

Chart-Topping Cartography

Swann puts notable North American maps on the block
By Barbara Basbanes Richter & Emily ByrdBarbara Basbanes Richter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Fine Books & Collections based in New York. Emily Byrd lives in North Carolina and is the editorial cordinator of special publications at Journalistic, Inc.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, History of the Expedition Under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark to the Sources of the Missouri…, Philadelphia, 1814. Estimate: $60,000-$90,000. At auction December 8, 2015. Courtesy of Swann Galleries.

Swann Galleries is the largest specialist auctioneer of works of paper worldwide, and nearly 75 years after its founding, it remains a leader of the New York auction scene as a provider of unique items with heady cultural significance. While online access means that buyers can place bids from any location, the Internet zeitgeist has left Swann Galleries’ core clientele of U.S. and New York-based buyers largely unchanged, resulting in an exceptional interest in items with a North American focus. According to Swann Galleries’ in-house specialist, Alex Clausen, “We’ve always seen a great demand for these items. The auction rooms are always packed, and it’s very exciting to watch the events unfold.” Luckily, this year’s December 8 Maps and Atlases auction is awash with remarkable cartographic material, headlining with William Faden’s 1777 North American Atlas, which is believed to be the best copy to appear at auction in over a century. It contains a stunning two-part map of New York City by British cartographer Bernard Ratzer and a map of the Western frontier by American surveyor Thomas Hutchins, along with forty other maps and battle plans that round out the atlas, which has a pre-sale estimate of $300,000-$500,000.

John Melish, Map of the United States, first large-format American map depicting the nation coast to coast, Philadelphia, 1816. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. At auction December 8, 2015. Courtesy of Swann Galleries.

In addition, the auction will feature the cornerstone map of Lewis & Clark’s journey to the Pacific, with pre-sale estimates of $60,000-$90,000. Also on the block are maps from Thomas Jefferys, one of the most prolific cartographical publishers of the eighteenth century. His American Atlas: or, A Geographical Description of the Whole Continent of America contains twenty-nine maps of North America, many of which remained the standard until the nineteenth century. This significant piece of Americana will be available at the December sale with an estimated price tag of $60,000-$90,000. Scottish mapmaker John Melish’s 1816 Map of the United States will be appearing in nearly pristine condition. It is the first American large-format map to illustrate the United States from coast to coast. Other offerings drawing attention are Mount & Page’s The English Pilot, The Fourth Book, Describing the West-India Navigation; Dutch engraver Jodocus Hondius’ 1637 Historia Mundi, which includes the Hall map of Virginia and the Smith map of New England. Thomas Jefferson’s A map of the country between Albemarle Sound, and Lake Erie from 1787 includes Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and other early states, plus, a rare map of a Dakota Territory survey taken just prior to the Great Sioux War of 1876 which notes the founding of outlaw towns like Rapid City, Deadwood, and Spearfish.

All in all, this season is bringing an almost unprecedented number of high-profile items to Swann Galleries, further solidifying the already iconic auction house as an industry mainstay, and strengthening its position as a provider of North American cartography for collectors and history buffs.