17th-c. Japanese Maps, U.S. Post Route Maps Among Highlights at Swann Galleries


New York—Swann Galleries’ June 3 auction of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books featured a fine selection of 17th century Japanese maps, including the sale’s top lot, an unparalleled map of Kyoto as the imperial capital of Japan, mounted on a six-panel folding screen. This masterpiece of urban cartography, as rare as it was beautiful, sold for $93,750*.

Additional Japanese highlights included a landmark 1697 map of Japan by Ishikawa Ryusen (Sagamiya Tahei, editor), a multi-sheet woodblock folding map containing a host of geographical information that far exceeded any previously published maps of Japan, $25,000.

Bringing $47,500 was a must-have for the truly serious collector of 19th-century American maps, a collection of United States Post Route maps by W.L. Nicholson, and others, encompassing the contiguous U.S., excluding Florida, 1860s-70s, which brought $47,500.


The auction offered a run of 16th-century depictions of Cyprus, the top-selling of which was Balthasar Jenichen, Warhafftige Co[n]terfettung der Turckischen Armata von Balleenn und andern Schiffen Dreihundert wie solche dess 1570 Jars in Ordnunge wider die Venedische Lendt ist aussgefahren, an exceptionally scarce engraved German broadside of the Ottoman fleet sailing to Venetian-controlled Cyprus in 1570, Nuremberg, circa 1570s, at $32,500.

Rounding out the cartographic highlights were the rarest of Pieter Goos’s chart of North America, Paskaerte van de Zuydt en Noordt Revier in Nieu Nederlant. double-page engraved sea chart of the New Jersey coast and what is now New York City, Amsterdam, 1666, $12,500; an archive of maps, manuscripts and early local imprints, spanning more than 50 years of French colonial history in the southern Indian Ocean, primarily the Mascarene Islands, 1760s onward, $11,250; and a superb copy of an uncommon Manhattan map, inscribed to the Marquis de Lafayette by the mapmaker, David Longworth, which documents the naming of Lafayette Street in his honor, $15,000.

Fine natural history plate books drew much interest. A first octavo edition of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, with 500 hand-colored lithographed plates in seven volumes, New York and Philadelphia, 1839-40-44, sold for $37,500; Michel Etienne Descoutilz’s Flore Pittoresque et Médicale des Antilles, with 600 engraved plates finished by hand in eight volumes from mixed editions, Paris, 1833, 1827-29 brought $20,000; and James Sowerby’s British Mineralogy, with 550 hand-colored engraved plates in five volumes, London, 1804-17, $11,250.

A landmark of English chromolithography was Owen Jones and Jules Gourdy’s Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details of the Alhambra, 102 plates and plans in two volumes, London, 1842-45, $13,750.

Individual plates of note included Audubon’s Meadow Lark. Plate CXXXVI, hand-colored engraved and aquatint plate from the double elephant folio edition of The Birds of America, 1832,  $16,250; Grey Fox. Plate XXI, hand-colored lithographed plate from the folio edition of Audubon’s Viviparous Quadrupeds, 1843, $15,000; as well as a pair of fine watercolors of Australian parrots, Brown's Parakeet (Northern Rosella), and male and female New Holland Parakeet (Cockatiel), after lithographs from Lear's Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, England, circa 1831, $18,750.

A selection of ephemera featured a group of more than 1,875 patriotic covers from the Civil War, including Confederate examples, 1861-65, which also brought $18,750.

For complete results, an illustrated color catalogue, with prices realized on request, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, and may be viewed online at www.swanngalleries.com.

For further information, and to propose consignments to upcoming auctions of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books, please contact Alex Clausen at (212) 254-4710, ext. 17, or via email at aclausen@swanngalleries.com.

*All prices include buyer’s premium.

First image: 17th-century manuscript map of Kyoto as the imperial capital of Japan, mounted on a six-panel folding screen. Sold for $93,750 (including buyer's premium).

Second image: Balthasar Jenichen, Warhafftige Co[n]terfettung der Turckischen Armata von Balleenn . . ., broadside depicting the Ottoman armada, Nuremberg, circa 1570s. Sold for $32,500  (including buyer's premium).

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