Auctions | December 6, 2019

Cartography Purist’s Delights Among Maps & Atlases at Swann

Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Hartmann Schedel, Liber Cronicarum cum Figuris et Ymaginibus ab Inicio Mundi, Nuremberg, 1493. Estimate $40,000-60,000.

New York—Swann Galleries closes out its 2019 fall season with an exceptional sale of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books on Tuesday, December 17. Atlases lead the sale, with additional highlights in cartography and spectacular images from Currier & Ives.

The sale is led by Hartmann Schedel’s Liber Cronicarum cum Figuris et Ymaginibus ab Inicio Mundi, Nuremberg, 1493, at $40,000 to $60,000—the Nuremberg Chronicle traces the world history from Biblical Creation to the time of publication. Further atlases include Claudius Ptolemaeus’s Geographicae Enarrationis Libri Octo., Lyons, 1535 ($20,000-25,000); the second volume of Joan and Willem Blaeu’s Novus Atlas—Toonneel des Aerdrycx, oft Nieuwe Atlas, Tweede Deels, Tweede Stuck, Amsterdam, 1658—comprising of France, Spain, Asia, Africa and America; and Thomas Jefferys’s The American Atlas: Or, a Geographical Description of the Whole Continent of America, London, 1776-77 ($10,000-15,000 each). Also of note is an 1840 Hawaiian-language school geography map from the Lahainaluna Seminary, making its auction debut at $2,500 to $3,500.

Standouts from the extensive offering of United States cartography includes A New and Accurate Chart of the Bay of Chesapeake, Boston, circa 1803, by John and William Norman, available at $18,000 to $22,000; the 1777 French issue of John Mitchell’s influential 1755 map of colonial North America by Georges Louis le Rouge is present in eight unaltered publisher’s sheets at $10,000 to $15,000; and Thomas Bakewell’s scarce 1748 map of North and South America, embellished with pictorial panels, is expected to bring $8,000 to $12,000.

World maps of note feature Martin Waldseemüller’s Tabula Terra Nove, Strasbourg, a 1513 double-page woodcut impression of the Atlantic Ocean offered at $20,000 to $30,000. Representations of Africa include Willem Blaeu’s Africae Nova Descriptio, Amsterdam, 1617, a scarce first-state impression that features decorative borders ($3,000-5,000), and Cornelis de Jode’s Africae Vera Forma, et Situs, Antwerp, 1593, with original hand-coloring ($4,000-6,000). Notable Japanese cartography includes a manuscript map of Commodore Perry’s Black Ship squadron entering Edo Bay, Japan, 1853 ($2,500-3,000), and Boeki Ba, Japan, 1859, a woodblock kawaraban of the port of Yokohama after its opening to commercial trade with America, Great Britain, France, Russia and the Netherlands shortly after the signing of the Ansei Treaties in 1858, present together with Bankoku Shimun Shi, a Yokohama newspaper ($1,000-1,500).

A run of high-quality Currier & Ives prints shines in an offering of historical prints and drawings. Most notable is a selection of prints that were exhibited at the 1990 Milwaukee Art Museum show Currier & Ives: Best Fifty Revisited. An impressive group of large folio hand-colored lithographs include The Mississippi in Time of Peace, 1865, depicting flatboats and paddle steamers relaxed under a glowing post–Civil War sunset ($6,000-9,000); The Champions of the Mississippi, A Race for the Buckhorns, 1866, portraying a dramatic steamboat race with the Queen of the West and Morningstar neck-and-neck for the lead ($4,000-6,000); and “Wooding Up” on the Mississippi, 1863, showing the steamboat Princess docked at a supply yard loading fuel wood ($4,000-6,000). Also featured is Ice-Boat Race on the Hudson, circa 1870, a small hand-colored lithograph of daring ice-boaters slashing down the frozen Hudson River challenging the speed of a steaming locomotive.

Johan Christoph Volkamer’s Nürenbergische Hesperides, Nuremberg, 1708-14, leads a run of color plate books at $12,000 to $18,000. The work includes 219 engraved plates of various fruits. Also of note is Jacob Bigelow’s American Medical Botany, Boston, 1817-20—cited as the first botanical work published in America ($1,500-2,500)—and seven volumes of Illustrated Guide Book for Travellers Round the World, Osaka, 1885-89, by T. Awoki and J. Susuka ($1,500-2,500).

Oddities, instruments and ephemera complete the sale, with 12 geography-related puzzles, games and trivia card sets, including “United States Geographical Lotto,” circa 1920, and “A Game of Cities,” 1889 ($300-500), as well as a polished steel collapsible standing magnify glass made by Laban Heath, perfect for examining bank notes, minerals, flowers, seeds and maps ($1,000-1,500).  

Exhibition opening in New York City December 12. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at and on the Swann Galleries App.

Additional highlights can be found here.