|Bonhams September sale was one of the most interesting of the recent London map-sales, by virtue of the wide range of material on offer, both in terms of geographical coverage, but also of date, particularly for England and Scotland, with numbers of interesting, and rare, items in the various groups. The sale totalled £ 384,000, with 35% of the 1102 items unsold, which seemed a good result overall, with some very high prices, although the maps did form a large proportion of the unsold items.|
|The second section of the sale offered maps of Europe and the wider world, included a good selection of coloured Speed maps, principally of the Bassett and Chiswell edition of 1676, but many of these struggled against estimate. Lot 382, the Speed Bohemia was unsold (estimate £400-500); France (lot 385) sold for £350 (estimate £400-600); Greece (390) fetched £310 (estimate £300-400); Hungary £400 (a good price against an enthusiastic estimate of £450-500); the Roman Empire (403) £1,000 (estimate £700-900); Russia (lot 406) £390 (estimate £400-500); the Bermuda (483), £1,3000 (estimate £900-1,200); China a very creditable £1,600 (estimate £1,200-1,500); and the Americas (lot 468), £3,100 (estimate £2,500-3,000). In contrast the East Indies (lot 501, black and white, estimate £1,000-1,200, the Carolinas (lot 489, £1,500-1,800) and the New England (526; estimate £2,000-2,500), the latter two suffering from strong estimates, the former perhaps from the fragility of the South-East Asian markets.|
|Other highlights of this early section included Blaeu's map of Europe, hand-coloured, with panelled borders including vignette views of principal cities attracted a winning bid of £1,200 (estimate £800-1,000). Braun and Hogenberg's plan of Paris, from 1572, in hand-colour, is one of the earliest plans of that city, and a good example of their oeuvre. Always popular, the lot, 399, achieved £800 (estimate £400-600).|
|Lot 434 was the First French Edition of Antonio Herrera y Tordesillas 'Description des Indies Occidentales', published by Michiel Colijn in Amsterdam in 1622. Herrera's history of the Americas was first published in 1601. This Dutch printing is supplemented with more recent accounts, including le Maire's circumnavigation of the navigation of the world. Colijn's edition contains 17 double-page or folding engraved maps and charts, copied from the Spanish originals and, more significantly a miniature map of the Americas on the engraved title-page, which takes precedence as the first printed map to show California as an island, a misconception of wide popularity and great longevity. Estimated at £5,000-7,000, it sold for £5,000.|
|Pieter van der Aa's map of the Americas, lot 469, is one such to show
California as an island, published almost exactly one hundred years later,
circa 1720. The map includes a finely engraved title cartouche, representing
typical European stereotype images of the Americas. Against an estimate
of £1,200-1,500, the map sold for £1,600. Another landmark
in American history was represented by lot 528, described as "The First
Map To Name The United States As Such". While there is some controversy
over which is the earliest, the candidates are from 1778. This map,
by Louis Brion de la Tour, entitled L'Amerique Septentrionale, Ou Se Remarquent
Les Etats Unis and published in 1779, would appear to be the earliest general
map of North America to demarcate the United States. The lot sold for £620
(estimate £800-1,000), which seemed eminently reasonable in terms
of recent prices for rival contenders.
Lot 519 was an example of one of the versions of Adrian Reland's map of Japan, here published by Willem Broedelet in Utrecht in 1715. Reland's work is distinguished by his use of Sino-Japanese characters within the map, and the attractive vignettes along the foot. The map sold for £900 (estimate £800-1,000).
|Another famous map on offer was Moll's 'New And Exact Map Of The Dominions Of The King Of Great Britain On Y.e Continent Of North America ...' the so-called 'Beaver Map' on account of the large vignette scene showing beavers damming a river. Justly prized for its visual appeal, but also cartographically important, the map often has problems from its original folds. This example, coloured, with the folds professionally strengthened, fetched £2,600 (estimate £3,000-4,000).|
|The real highlight of the sale, both in terms of its rarity, and for
fetching the highest price of the day, was an all-but unrecorded map of
the World, published by Henry Overton, who flourished from 1707 onwards.
In fact, the map presented a number of puzzles, which suggested that Overton
was actually utilising a plate originally prepared, presumably by his father
John, in the 1670's. Certainly, geographically the map better fits
that earlier date. It would then seem that the vignette full-length
portraits of William and Mary (visible at the upper left) were substituted
for the existing vignette, no doubt at the time of their joint accession
in 1689, and then finally Henry Overton substituted his imprint, after
purchasing his father's business in 1707.
Although only relatively small (410 x 505mm / 16 x 20 inches), the two panels of costume figures and the attractive contemporary colouring, made it a most attractive piece. With a low estimate (£2,000-£3,000), and great interest during viewing, anything seemed possible, and so it proved, with the winning bidder having to go to £17,000 to secure the piece - a tremendous price far in excess of pre-sale speculation.
|Perhaps the most interesting of the atlases, and among the most uncommon,
was Vincenzo Formaleoni's Teattro della guerra marittima, e terrestre fra
la gran Bretagna, le Colonie Unite, la Franca ..., published in Venice
in 1781. The volume is illustrated with 43 maps and views, of which
41 are Italian copies of Jacques-Nicolas Bellin's maps, prepared to illustrate
Prevost's travel accounts, and these concentrate particularly on eastern
North America, and the West Indies. The volume was estimated was £3,000-5,000,
and sold on the low estimate.
The most popular world atlas on the day proved to be the second edition of Herman Moll's 'Atlas Minor', published by Thomas and Bowles in , with 62 double-page or folding maps, unusually uncoloured. Of the maps, 19 relate to the Americas. The lack of colour proved no obstacle, as competition took the hammer price to £4,200 (estimate £3,000-5,000).
Blaeu's atlas of England and Wales, lot 910, also sold well. This example, volume V of the Atlas Maior was unusually, black and white, but with the maps fine dark impressions. Also, unusually, the atlas was bound in contemporary calf, rather than the more standard vellum. Even so, the lot made £10,000 (estimate £10,000-12,000).
|One of the largest sections of maps was devoted to the Holy Land, and neighbouring countries. While there seemed to be a good range of interesting and unusual material, the majority of the lots were unsold, while all bar one of the others selling either below, or just around low estimate. The one success was Wenceslas Hollar's etched and engraved prospect of Jerusalem, on two sheets joined, dated 1660. A handsome fantasy view of the city, taken from the east, the Temple and Palace of King David figured prominently. Estimated at £1,000-1,500, it sold for £1,900. One rarity that failed to attract a buyer was Joseph Erasmus Belling's copy of Adrichom's map of the Holy Land, on two separate sheets, with overall dimensions of 320 by 828mm. Belling, a little known engraver (he is not listed in the revised edition of Tooley's Dictionary, nor is the map listed in Laor's carto-bibliography), apparently worked in Augsburg, circa 1635. Surprisingly the lot was unsold against an estimate of £300-400.|
|A small section of "Other Maps" followed again offering a geographically varied selection, including another example of the Braun and Hogenberg plan of Paris (lot 691). This example, uncoloured, sold for £550 (estimate £450-500). Two early plans of Moscow also featured, respectively lots 686 and 685. The first by Braun and Hogenberg depicted the city as it was in the 1520's, following the description by Sigismund von Herberstein. This example, in bright old hand colour sold for £620 (estimate £500-700). The preceding lot depicted the Kremlin fortress. The plate was possibly prepared by Hessel Gerritsz circa 1613/1614, before being acquired by Willem Blaeu. The plan was only regularly issued in the Atlas Maior (1662), and so is one of the scarcest of Blaeu's atlas maps. This example, finely hand-coloured, was estimated at £350-450, before selling for £500.|
|The section of maps of the British Isles also met with variable success.
One of the most interesting items was another rarity by an English mapmaker
- not recorded in the standard reference work on maps of the British Isles
- lot 934, a road map of England and Wales by John Seller Sr., published
circa 1690. Being schematic, the map appeared rather plain, although
the contemporary colouring was attractively applied. Estimated at
£3,000-3,500, the item was unsold in the sale, but later sold for
Among the general maps of the British Isles were a mixture of large-scale maps of various counties and harbours. Such items, which were frequently cartographically of great importance, often had a hard working life, and so were more susceptible to damage and subsequent disposal than atlas maps. One such was lot 958, Peter Burdett's 'Survey Of The County Of Chester', on four sheets dissected and laid on canvas, published in 1777, the cataloguer noting one institutional location. Despite its rarity, it was unsold on an estimate of £700-900. More successful was Arthur Bryant's survey of the same county, published in 1831, on six sheets dissected, which achieved £700 (estimate £700-900). Benjamin Donn's 'Map Of The County Of Devon', on twelve sheets, bound with the accompanying index map, was the first to win the Royal Society of Arts' annual award of £100 for the best map prepared at a scale of one inch to the mile. Estimated at £400-500, it fetched £600.
|George Hennet's 'Map Of The County Palatine Of Lancaster', published
in 1830, lot 1015, was 4 sheets dissected and laid on cloth, in the original
slip-case. It was estimated at £400-500, before selling on the low
estimate. Robert Baugh's map of Shropshire, from 1808, was offered
as lot 1060, unusually bound in sheets. Shropshire is generally one
of the least sought-after counties, but even so a hammer price of £300
(estimate £300-400) seemed good value for the purchaser. Lot
1063 was John Rocque's map of the same county, published in 1752.
This example was dissected and laid on canvas, in four sections.
This sold for £480 (estimate £450-500).
J. Philips and W. Hutchings survey of Staffordshire, published by Henry Teesdale in 1832 was lot 1072. This example, in original hand-colour, dissected and stored in the original book-style slip-case, fetched £600 (estimate £400-500). A late issue of Christopher and John Greenwood's large-scale survey of Sussex, published by Baxter in 1861, recorded in only one institutional example, was unsold (estimate £400-500).
One interesting group of large-scale surveys that also caught the eye related to Liverpool and the Mersey. Lot 1027 was a manuscript 'Plan of that Part of the Harbour of Liverpool and the River Mersey ... shewing the proposed Line of Conservancy', drawn by the local surveyor John Bennison in 1840. This was an important period in the history of Liverpool, but in the event, and surprisingly, the item was unsold (estimate £600-800). The next lot was Michael Alexander Gage's plan of Liverpool, published in 1836, dissected, with the original book-style slip-case, with original colour. This sold for £500 (estimate £500-700). Lot 1035 was Graham and Sweney's chart of the Mersey, published by the Docks and Harbour Board, in 1871. A huge item, 1725 by 300mm, originally six sheets, dissected and folded into a contemporary portfolio, with the bookplate of the publishers, it failed to attract sufficient attention on the day, and was unsold against an estimate of £600-800.
A final large-scale survey to mention was John Evans's scarce nine sheet map of North Wales, published in 1795. Here however, the estimate of £800-1,000 proved too strong, and the lot was unsold.
|Bonhams seem to have a special knack with maps of Ireland and its parts, and so it proved again, with only one of the separate map lots not selling, and several of the maps selling for strong prices, particularly the Speed of Ireland (lot 845) selling for £900 (estimate £700-900). This knack, unfortunately does not extend to items of Scotland or Wales, where a good proportion of the lots were unsold. There were highlights though. A black and white example of John Speed's map of Wales, lot 859, sold for £750 (estimate £500-700). James Gordon's pair of views of Edinburgh, drawn from life in the 1650's, and published in Amsterdam, first by Johannes Blaeu and then re-issued by Frederick de Wit in the 1690, was lot 797. Sotheby's sold an example in the summer, and their success seems to have brought other examples out of hiding. Bonhams' example, with the sheet cut into two, sold for £1,300 (estimate £1,000-1,300). I see that Bonhams are offering a third example in their December sale. What price that one?|