Early Botanicals, Early Plate Books & Maps at Swann Galleries Dec. 4


New York—On Thursday, December 4 Swann Galleries will conduct an eclectic auction of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books featuring early botanicals, Audubon plates, exquisite plate books and rare maps.

Among the most visually appealing items is Frederick Catherwood’s Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, London, 1844, a color plate book documenting recently discovered archaeological sites throughout Central America (estimate: $20,000 to $30,000). Another rare work by Catherwood in the auction is his famous, separately issued view: New-York, Taken from the North west angle of Fort Columbus, Governors Island, 1846 ($3,000 to $5,000).


Audubon highlights include the scarce hand-colored American Black or Silver Fox. Plate CXVI, from the imperial folio edition of Viviparous Quadrupeds, Philadelphia, 1847 and Grey Fox. Plate XXI, from the folio edition, Philadelphia, 1843 ($7,000 to $10,000 each).

The auction features a selection of rare and early works related to the study of botany, with more than a half-dozen herbals from the 1600s and earlier. There is an fine watercolor on vellum from 1763 depicting an exotic plant grown in an English hot house by William King, titled Helicteres or Screw Tree ($1,500 to $2,500).

The auction’s top lot is the only obtainable world map by Gerard de Jode, Universi Orbis Seu Terreni Globi In Plano Effigies, a double-page cordiform map with wide margins and very fine original hand-color in full, Antwerp, 1578. It is one of the most desirable examples to come to market in decades and is estimated at $30,000 to $50,000.

Robert Sayer and John Bennett’s broadside map The Seat of War, In New England, by an American Volunteer depicts events of the American Revolution in Massachusetts, with inset maps of Boston Harbor, the city of Boston and Bunker Hill, 1775 ($15,000 to $25,000). From the flowing year comes J.F.W. Des Barres’s A Plan of the Town of Newport in the Province of Rhode Island, London, 1776, one of the scarcer charts from Des Barres’s famed Atlantic Neptune, the most important collection of North American maps and views published during the 18th century ($7,000 to $10,000).

From the 19th century are Carleton Osgood’s Map of Massachusetts, Boston, 1801, the first official map of Massachusetts ($7,000 to $10,000); John Melish’s Map of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1826 ($8,000 to $12,000); and Samuel Augustus Mitchell’s 1831 large folding Map of the United States in exquisite color and condition ($4,000 to $6,000).

There are also several unusual items, such as William Meacham Murrell’s allegorical Map of Temperance, extolling the virtues of teetotalism and the pitfalls of drink, Boston, 1846 ($600 to $900); Isaac Eddy and James Wilson’s 1813 map of history, Chronology Delineated to Illustrate the History of Monarchical Revolution, Vermont, 1813 ($800 to $1,200); and examples of early American manuscript school maps.

Rounding out the sale are a pair of joined city views by John Kip, A Prospect of the City of London and A Prospect of Westminster, London, 1718 ($6,000 to $9,000); John Bornet’s Panorama of Manhattan Island, City of New York and Environs, a large color lithograph finished by hand, New York, 1854 ($5,000 to $7,500); a mammoth archive of manuscript maps and blueprints documenting the Northern Pacific Railway in Washington State, with hundreds of rolled plans in a range of formats and sizes, 1890s to 1950s ($10,000 to $15,000); and a complete set of 79 issues of Journal Des Dames et Des Modes, 1 June 1912 to 1 August 1914 ($7,000 to $10,000).

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 4. The material will be on public exhibition Monday, December 1 through Wednesday, December 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday, December 4, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

 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 www.swanngalleries.com.

For further information, and to arrange in advance to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Alex Clausen at (212) 254-4710, extension 17, or via email at aclausen@swanngalleries.com.

Live online bidding is also available via Invaluable.com.

First image: Gerard de Jode, Universi Orbis Seu Terreni Globi In Plano Effigies, Antwerp, 1578. Estimate: $30,000 to $50,000.

Second image: Frederick Catherwood, Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, London, 1844. Estimate: $20,000 to $30,000.

Auction Guide