Auctions | May 9, 2011

Japan-related Material, Maps & Natural History at Swann Galleries

New York—On Thursday, June 2, Swann Galleries will conduct their semi-annual auction of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Historical Prints, and Ephemera, which, as always, offers a variety of cartographic items and desirable decorative graphics. This sale also features a large selection of Japanese material rarely seen in the U.S.

The top Japanese lot is a magnificent pen and ink and watercolor map of Suruga Province, measuring 5 by 7 feet, and made circa 1716-35. The map served as an economic report to the Shogun, providing details of agricultural and natural resource production to aid in determining taxation of the daimyo, the warlords of feudal Japan. There is enormous detail of villages and other landmarks, calligraphic notations on the local economy, and an inspiring depiction of Mt. Fuji in the background. The pre-sale estimate is $100,000 to $150,000.

Also from Japan is as a set of 15 color-finished pen and ink double page maps of the world, China, Korea and other subjects, likely from the seventeenth century ($5,000 to $7,500), illustrated books with textile designs and kimono patterns, and picture books such as a volume of kyoka poems illustrated by Kitagawa Utamaro, circa 1794 ($1,000 to $1,500).

Western material related to Japan includes Robert Dudley’s Carta particolare della Grande Isola del Giapone e di Jeso, engraved double page map, Florence, 1646 ($10,000 to $15,000).

Also among the most desirable maps in the sale are those that depict the Americas. These include two engraved maritime charts by Norman, Chart of the Coast of America from Cape Hateras [sic] to Cape Roman [sic], third state, with the addition of  “New Inlet” just north of Cape Fear, Boston, 1794 ($20,000 to $30,000), and A Chart of South Carolina and Georgia, 1803 ($5,000 to $7,500); as well as Herman Moll, A New and Exact Map of the Dominions of the King of Great Britain on ye Continent of North America, known as the “Beaver Map” due to its inset illustration of the furry creatures, London, 1715 ($7,000 to $10,000); Matthaeus Seutter, Recens Edita totius Novi Belgii in America Septentrionale, Augsburg, 1730 $3,000 to $4,000); Henry Popple’s A Map of the British Empire in America with the French, Spanish and the Dutch Settlements adjacent thereto, Amsterdam, 1741 or later ($4,000 to $6,000); and a lovely copy of the Fry-Jefferson Map of the most Inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole Province of Maryland, London, 1775 ($12,000 to $18,000).

Rounding out the map highlights are double hemispheric world maps, such as Frederick de Wit, Nova Orbis Tabula in Lucem Edita, Amsterdam, circa 1670 ($3,000 to $4,000); atlases, including Anthony Finley, A New General Atlas, Philadelphia. 1833 ($3,500 to $5,000); maps of Europe and the Holy Land, and three globes dating from the nineteenth century.

Among the featured books with plates are John James Audubon’s The Quadrupeds of North America, with 155 very clean hand-colored lithographed plates, three volumes, New York, 1849 ($4,000 to $6,000); W.T. Greene’s Parrots in Captivity, with 81 color plates, three volumes, London, 1884-87 ($3,000 to $4,000); Col. T.H. Hendley’s Asian Carpets XVI and XVII Century Designs from the Jaipur Palaces, with 150 color plates, London, 1905 ($1,500 to $2,500); Vyacheslav Polonskii’s work on Russian Revolutionary Posters, illustrating poster art by Ivanov, Lebedev and others, first edition, Moscow, 1925 ($2,000 to $3,000); and works on architecture, caricature and costume.

The decorative graphics section contains plates from the double elephant folio edition of Audubon's Birds of America, beautiful botanicals by Robert John Thornton, Currier & Ives lithographs including equestrian subjects, New York City views, and more.

The sale concludes with nearly 30 lots of ephemera, which include Disney cartoon lobby cards, menus, postcards and sheet music.

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 2. The works will be on public exhibition Friday, May 27 by appointment only; Tuesday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to noon.

 An illustrated catalogue with information on bidding by mail or fax is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to arrange in advance to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Gary Garland at (212) 254-4710, extension 17, or via email at

Live online bidding is also available via