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Sotheby's
Mediterranean and The Middle East Travel
&
Library of Robert Michael Burrell


The Frank T.Seibert Library, Part II

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Sotheby's London:
Travel Sale: Mediterranean and The Middle East, Wednesday 13 October 1999
The Library of Robert Michael Burrell Books on the Middle East 14 and 15 October 1999
Prices quoted are the hammer price, which is subject to an additional buyer's premium payable at "a rate of 15% on the first £30,000 of the hammer price and a rate of 10% on the amount by which the hammer price exceeds £30,000"
To save repetition, items from the Travel sale are designated 'T' and items from the Burrell sale 'B'.
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The two sales, spread over three days, mark Sotheby's continuing concentration on, and consolidation of, the market for books and maps of the eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Worlds, carrying on from the success of the Peter Hopkirk Sale (October 13th and 14th 1998) and 'The Holy Land and Middle East' sale of March 1999.

These two sales again show the tremendous amount of money available for the purchase of appropriate items, while many of the results offer not an insight into values of particular items, but of the single-minded determination of one collector to see off the opposition.  In such circumstances, estimates, and in some cases, reality, had little influence on the final outcome.

While a number of sheet maps were offered over the two sales, one or two interesting maps were offered in the original volumes, and I will select a few of the most interesting of these.

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Linschoten: B 505
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The 'Travel Sale' comprised 474 lots, of which just over a third were paintings, watercolours and drawings, which I shall pass by.  This sale also contained the bulk of the map lots.  Lot 184 was Jan Huyghen van Linschoten's map of the Middle East and India, here from the rarer English version, engraved by Robert Beckit, published in 1598.  The map was coloured, and had been backed to support the original folds. Estimated at £1,500-2,000, it fetched £2,800.  The Burrell copy (lot 505) was the original Dutch engraving, from 1596, in black and white. Also estimated at £1,500-2,000, it too fetched £2,800.  Both versions are desirable for the elaborate engraving, while a hand-coloured example of the de Jode 'Secundae Partis Asiae', which is of a similar date (1593) and area (although not extending so far eastwards) is a rather plainer engraving.  Against an estimate of £500-700, it reached a creditable £2,200, despite evident restoration to the lower border (T-182).
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De Jode: T 182
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From nearly a century later came John Seller's chart of the eastern coast of Africa, from the Cape round to Ceylon.  This example, in contemporary outline colour, bore the imprint of Seller's partners, so dating from circa 1677.  A scarce item (B-504), from the early period of English marine cartography, the estimate, a seemingly realistic £500-700 counted for nothing as the map went on to sell for £2,800, a tremendous price.
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Seller: B 504
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One of the most interesting general maps of the Middle East was the 'Mappa Dell'Impero Ottomanno', drawn by Abubekir Efendi, and published in Amsterdam in 1732 (T-180). This is regarded as "the first map of Arabia in a European language to be compiled by a Turk".  By any reckoning, visually a rather unexciting map, with very little internal detail in the Arabian peninsula, its historical importance counted, as bidding took the map to £2,200 from an estimate of £400-600.
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Efendi: T 180
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Maps devoted to the Arabian peninsula fared equally well.  Sebastian Munster's Ptolemaic map from 1540 (B-506), black and white with restored worming to the centrefold fetched £1,400 (estimate £200-250), while Jomabard's 'Carte de L'Arabie' (T-181), from Noel Desverger's description of Arabia, published by Firmin Didot Freres in 1847, fetched £320 (estimate £150-200).  As it happens, lot 215 from the same sale was a complete example of the book, with the map and 44 plates, which sold for £220 (estimate £150-220).
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The biggest surprise of the day however was Vandermaelen's map 'Parte du Pays de Nejid', a folio lithographed map, published in 1827, and described as "One of the earliest maps of Riyad" (B-508).  The estimate of £500-700 seemed optimistic before the sale, even considering the subject.  While evidently important to collectors of Arabian maps, it is also not that rare.  However, two collectors evidently saw this as their opportunity, with the winning bidder spending £10,500 on the sheet, by any token an insane price.
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Vandermaelen: B 508
(Detail courtesy ofLee Jackson)
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Outside the maps of the Arabian peninsula however, prices were more disappointing, with many items struggling against low estimate.  Two exceptions were the Ulm Ptolemy of Persia (T-211), the 1486 in contemporary hand-colouring, which sold for £1,900 (estimate £500-700), and Speed's map of Persia, a hand-coloured example of the 1676 edition, which sold for £1,100 (T-209, estimate £300-500).
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Florimi: T 193
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The 'Travel Sale' also offered an interesting series of plans of Constantinople, covering a range of about one hundred and sixty years.  While this period saw periods of tension, as the Turks threatening southern and eastern Europe, it is still surprising to see very much the same image being circulated by Matthaus Seutter in the 1740's as Matteo Florimi, circa 1600. Florimi's example (T-193, above) sold for £1,900 (estimate £1,500-2,000), while Seutter's version (T-195, below) sold for £500 (estimate £600-800).
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Seutter
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Among the rarest maps on offer was Charles Harper's 'A New Mapp Of The Holy Land', a black and white engraving, on two sheets joined, published in an English biography of Jesus Christ, in 1697 (T-203) fetched £1,900 (estimate £1,800-2,000), despite some loss of border along the lower border.
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Harper: T 203
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A highlight of the sale was an original manuscript chart of Corfu, by one of the most talented and prolific of the English Admiralty surveyors from the early nineteenth century, William Henry Smyth. Also offered in the lot was the printed Admiralty of the region.  The differences between the two suggest that the manuscript, although an accomplished work in its own right, was an early draught, with a subsequent revision serving  as the model for the engraver.  The engraved version contained five additional insets, and extended the coverage of the coast.  The charts also had a distinguished provenance, having been owned by Robert Cavendish Spencer, third son of the second Earl Spencer, a Captain in the Royal Navy, who held commands in the Mediterranean at this time.  However, the lot (T-190), fetched only £3,100 (estimate £2,000-2,500), which seemed surprising.
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Smyth: T 190
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Among the travel books, again it was maps of Arabia that seemed to set the tone, with the following examples taken from the Burrell sale. Lot 426 was another example of Katib Celeb's Kitab Jihab-numa [Mirror of the World] (Constantinople, 1732), which was described as "A RARE ISLAMIC CARTOGRAPHY", despite this example being something like the fourth example to be auctioned in London in about a year.   This example, which had crude repairs to some of the text and five maps, still did well, selling for £18,000, against an estimate of £5,000-7,000.

James Wellsted's Travels to the City of the Caliphs, published in 1840, was offered as lot 860, the First Edition, with a folding map of Oman. The item sold for £3,100 (estimate £2,00-2,500).  A detailed plan of Aden appeared in Parliamentary Papers Correspondence Relating To Aden (lot 600), published in 1839, the year Britain annexed Aden. The estimate of £300-400 was quickly passed, as bidding took the item to £1,800.

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Wellstead: 860
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Lot 812, edited by Thomas Hughes was a series of reports Selections from the Records of the Bombay Company, published in Bombay in 1856. The 11 Selections related principally to Arabia, particularly the Persian Gulf, and were illustrated with six maps or charts, including a general chart 'Map Of Maritime Arabia ..'.  Estimated at £1,00-1,500, the winning bid was £5,500.
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The Frank T.Seibert Library, Part II*

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