Explore The World Through These Antique Maps

World travelers can explore both land and sea with a collection of antique maps in this week’s auction. Unlike current maps, these original engravings trace borders as they were being charted.

The 1630 Hondius/Mercator map of Japan and Korea, as an example, shows the latter as an island, but a notation by the cartographers acknowledges the uncertainty whether Corea (Korea) is an island or a peninsula. This map is richly ornamented with two strapwork cartouches, one European (Dutch galleon) and one Japanese junk-style ship, and a sea monster.

1630 Hondius/Mercator Map of Japan and Korea, ‘Iaponia,’ hand colored. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000. Jasper52 image


Jumping ahead 250 years, we have a map of Tokyo in the form of a Japanese woodblock print. This elaborate map of the city has an insert of the port of Yokohama. As was the style of many Japanese city maps, the text radiates from the center of the map, which in this case is the Imperial Palace of Tokyo. Surrounding the map are 20 engraved views of various places around the city.

Japanese woodblock print, map of Tokyo with an insert of Yokohama, 1888. Estimate: $750-$1,000. Jasper52 image


Sailing south, we encounter Henri Jacques Chatelain’s 1791 map of Southeast Asia. Published in Amsterdam, this fine map features the region of Southeast Asia and includes Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Malay Peninsula and the Gulf of Bengalin to the north, to Java and Sumatra in the south. The map is centered on Malacca and Borneo. Chatelain depicts even small islands, sea routes, shoals, and other places which might threaten the safety of voyagers at sea.

Map of Southeast Asia by Henri Jacques Chatelain, Amsterdam, published 1719. Estimate: $750-$1,000. Jasper52 image


More treacherous water is charted in Gerard Mercator’s 1613 map of the Strait of Magellan, which separates mainland South America to the north and Tierra del Fuego to the South. This map bears a souther projection with North pointing toward the bottom of the map. Not only is this the first map of the Strait of Magellan to appear in a commercial atlas, it is one of a few sea charts produced by Mercator. For over 100 years, the Strait of Magellan was believed to be the only sure way to sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The title cartouche is that of early Baroque style and is flanked by two penguins.

Strait of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego, 1613, published in ‘Atlas sive Cosmographicae Meditationes … ’ by Gerard Mercator, Amsterdam. Estimate: $1,000-$1,500. Jasper52 image


Christopher Columbus would have found R. & J. Ottens’ map of Cuba, Hispaniola, and Florida helpful. The original copperplate engraving was published sometime between 1725 and 1750. The map has insets of St. Augustine, Havana, and Santo Domingo. Ahoy, pirates and treasure hunters: the map includes routes of the Spanish galleons.

Cuba, Hispaniola and Florida, 1725-1750, an original copperplate engraving published by R. & J. Ottens. Estimate: $3,000-$4,000. Jasper 52 image


For those inclined to be politically correct, we have Thomas Kitchen’s 1749 A Correct Map of Europe, a four-sheet political map that divides the continent into its empires and kingdoms.

A sheet of ‘A Correct Map of Europe,’ four-part political map of the continent, Thomas Kitchen, London, 1749. Estimate: $600-$800. Jasper52 image


Not only will these maps serve as decorative pieces, but they also will reveal innumerable ways to view the world. Click here to explore the entire catalog.