Antique Maps Putting World Views Into Perspective
Beautifully illustrated maps of the world are drawing collectors to this week’s antique map and atlas auction, specially curated by category experts. Take a look below at the highlights from this worldly collection attracting travelers and historians alike.
Topping the nearly 100-lot catalog collection is a lavish world map by J. Elwe, which was printed in Amsterdam in 1792. It is a re-issue of a map first published in 1694 by Alexis-Hubert Jaillot. The map is beautifully decorated with a rich allegorical background. The female representations of the four continents adorn the corners with figures representing the virtues of Justice with her ax and scales, Truth holding a mirror while being attacked by a serpent, Fortitude with a broken column, a Temperance mixing wine and water.
One of the most famous and iconic world maps is published in the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, which is considered the world’s first modern atlas. It was first published in 1570 in Antwerp. The map is the work of Abraham Ortelius, one of the most famous cartographers in history. This atlas was the most expensive book ever published on any subject up to that date. Of the 3,850 copies produced by 1587-1612, there are an estimated 395 of these atlases still intact. There are an estimated 556 loose examples of the map known.
The 1720 map of the world by Johann Baptist Homann is one of the most decorative maps of its kind of the 18th century. The double hemisphere shows the latest discovery of an incomplete Australia and New Zealand, and inaccurate depictions of Pacific Northwest and Japan.
Also published by the Homann family in Nuremberg is a 1740s celestial chart. The hand-colored copperplate engraving is based on the works of astronomers Doppelmayr, Heelius and Halley. The double hemisphere celestial chart shows the constellations of the northern and southern skies depicted as animal figures. There are three diagrams showing the planetary modes by Brache, Ptolemy and Copernicus. Three other diagrams show the moon and sun, revolution of the earth around the sun and the effects of the moon on tides.
For those travelers following Horace Greeley’s advice, Colton’s 1872 folding map of the Western United States is essential. This large and colorful map on banknote paper indicates overland routes and projected railroad lines.