Stevenson Archive of Unusual Maps, Atlases and Maritime History to Auction

Lyon & Turnbull

Lot 81, Jan Janssonius, Novus Atlas, sive Theatrum Orbis Terrarum: volume 1 

Lyon & Turnbull's February 7  Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs sale features items covering 200 years of one of Scotland's best-known families.

Robert Stevenson (1772-1850) was born in Glasgow and built 19 lighthouses, among them the Bell Rock Lighthouse in 1811, the oldest working rock lighthouse in the United Kingdom. Leading the auction is an illustrated manuscript Signals from the Bell Rock Lighthouse to the Arbroath Signal Tower which contains 28 handdrawn and coloured illustrations showing the workings of the lighthouse’s copper signal ball and flags.

Much of the archive material in the sale tells the story of the Stevenson family, with material relating to Robert Stevenson’s grandson, the writer Robert Louis Stevenson including a letter sent from the yacht The Heron, and a photograph of R.L. Stevenson in Samoa.

The last of the Stevenson lighthouse dynasty was David Alan Stevenson (1891-1971) who was not only a keen philatelist, but also a collector of atlases. Among those from his collection going under the hammer are:

  • Sebastian Münster's Cosmographiae Universalis Lib. VI (estimate £3,000 - £5,000)
  • Matthias Quad's Europae Totius Orbis Terrarum (estimate: £3,000 - £4,000)
  • Claudius Ptolemaeus's La Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandro, a complete copy of the first edition of Girolamo  Ruscelli's 1561 translation of Ptolemy in contemporary vellum (estimate: £2,000 - £3,000)
  • Jan Janssonius, Jan, Novus Atlas, sive Theatrum Orbis Terrarum: volume 1  (£3,000 - £5,000)

Other highlights from the sale include first editions of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and George Orwell’s Animal Farm.