'Important Atlases and Cosmographies'
March 11th 1999 (cont.)

'The Holy Land & Middle East The Library of a Gentleman
and Maps from The Laor Collection', March 23rd 1999

Hammer prices quoted (with 15% buyer's premium).

This auction report covers the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East books from the 'Important Atlases' sale, in conjunction with 'mappy' books from the second sale, and sheet maps from the Laor collection, comprising duplicate items  from that distinguished collection.

To start with the separate maps, the two most important items on offer were the woodcut maps of the Holy Land from the 1482 Ulm Ptolemy, and the 1513 Strassburg Ptolemy (the latter copied from the former).  While the Ulm was in standard original colour, the example from the 1513 edition, draughted by Martin Waldseemuller, was unusual as being in contemporary colour, and more unusual still in that the colour was actually quite attractive, and that may well be reflected in the respective selling prices, with the Waldseemuller making £4,200 and the Ulm £5,500 (est. £2,000-2,500 and £5,000-7,000) while one would usually have expected a greater gap between the two, as reflected in the different estimates.


Perhaps the rarest of the maps on offer was from a small section of 'Other Properties' at the end of the sale.  While this section did not do well - bullish raising of estimates on sale-day often has a harmful effect, as here - one item not highlighted in the catalogue caught the attention of a number of people, an English edition of Christian van Adrichom's plan of Jerusalem.  The English version first appeared in 1595 (of which there is one known example).  There are a number of later states, issued by Peter Stent and John Overton. Alexander Globe ('Peter Stent', Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1985) suggested a total of five states, with two of these hypothetical, but there seems to be as many as eight possible states (four hypothetical), of which the Sotheby's example would be state 7, with one of John Overton's imprints dated 1677.

The map is interesting for a number of reasons.  Apart from its rarity, it one of the very few maps of overseas subjects published in Britain before 1626, from the formative years of the English map trade.  A further feature is that the map bears the imprint of Peter Stent, dated 1639, which is some three years earlier than he was thought to have started in trade.  Unfortunately, post-sale research has shown this date to be an engraving error for 1659. While in relatively poor condition, beggars cannot be choosers, and strong competition took the winning bidder to £2,100 (est. £600-800, revised to £800-£1,000)

Also in the Laor collection were examples of the original Adrichom plan (Cologne, 1584), and the Braun and Hogenberg derivative (Cologne, 1590), both on two sheets.  The Adrichom, black and white as usual, sold for £650 (est. £500-700). The Braun and Hogenberg, in contemporary hand-colouring, sold for £1,650 (est. £500-700).  Although the Braun and Hogenberg is the more visually appealing, with the contemporary colouring (which had oxidized causing the paper to crack, and thus necessitated backing the map), the price difference between the original version and the copy has always seemed surprising.

From the 1720s came another rare plan of Jerusalem, by de Pierre, published in Vienna in 1726, according Sotheby's.  Unnoticed, however, the title of the map contains a chronogram, a device whereby certain letters  - the Roman numerals - are engraved on a larger size, so that they stand out.  When added together, these numerals add up to 1728, suggesting that year as the correct date of publication.  Although rare, the estimate, £5,000-7,000, seemed strong, and the plan struggled to sell at £4,750.

Also offered were a number of panoramas, of varying dates.  One of them, published in Vienna at much the same time as the plan, by Borowsky is illustrated here. Published in 1710, it was estimated at £200-300, selling for £750.

As a token example of a Cyprus item, Dudley's Chart of the Eastern Mediterranean, estimated £800-1000, was taken to £3,800 by two keen Cypriot collectors. Considering it had a pencilled price bottom right of £12 the chart has been a very good investment!

The 'Important Atlases' sale offered the more interesting travel books relating to the Holy Land, with the earliest of them being Bernhard von Breydenbach's Peregrinatio In Terram Sanctam.  The book, an account of his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, contains a large map of the Holy Land, and a series of view of the principal ports visited on route, including a striking prospect of Venice (a detail of which is illustrated),drawn by the artist/publisher Erhard Reuwich.  The volume is the earliest illustrated travel account to appear in print.  Unfortunately, because of their size, the maps and views are frequently found in poor condition, particularly the map.  The three largest views were restored, with loss of the original image replaced from a later edition.  Estimated at £10,000-12,000, the final price of £41,000 took the room by surprise.

Another early travel account relating to the Holy Land was Jacob Ziegler's Quae Intus..., with the two editions represented by three examples.  The map contains an early map of Scandinavia, after Cornelis Clavus, and six other maps of Palestine, its parts, and Egypt.  The general map of Palestine is described by Nordenskiold as the first printed map to show compass variation.  The best example of the three, a First Edition sold for £7,800 (est. £5,000-7,000). The rarer second edition, of 1536, with loss to four of the maps, fetched £4,800 (est. £5,000-7,000). The third, lacking the maps of Scandinavia and upper Egypt sold for £2,800 (est. £3,000-4,000)

Having mentioned Adrichom's plan of Jerusalem, there were several examples of his description of the Holy Land, Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, offered in the two sales.  The volume contains the plan of Jerusalem, as well as a large map of the Holy Land and a series of maps of the parts.  Here again, the large folding  maps are often found in poor condition. In the 'Important Atlases' sale, the first example had damage to both the map of the Holy Land and Jerusalem sold for £550 (est. £600-800). The second had the Jerusalem plan torn, and the Palestine map missing, also sold for £550 (est. £600-800).  The three examples from the Laor Collection, all later editions after 1600 were all unsold.  The first, with the plan of Jerusalem damaged was bought-in at £480 (est. £700-900), the second and third, lacking the plan, were unsold respectively at £480 and £400 (each est. £600-800).

One of the most interesting books in the 'Important Atlases' sale was Heinrich Bunting's Itinerarium Sacrae Scripturae, published in Magdeburg, 1608-1617.  Bunting endeavoured to re-write the Bible as an itinerary, and then illustrated it with three of the earliest and most famous cartographic curiosities - a map of the World in the shape of a cloverleaf (symbol of his home town Hanover), with Jerusalem at the centre, a map of Europe in the form of a queen, and a map of Asia, depicted as Pegasus, the winged horse.  Nevertheless, the volume fetched only £4,200 (est. £4,000-6,000).

Unusually, there were three examples of Christoph Heidmann's Palestinae sive Terra Sancta (all with their photogenic title-page illustrated but, alas not here), which serve as an example of the difference setting can make.  The 'Important Atlases' example, with 4 maps and "some browning", in a worn contemporary calf binding sold for £700 (est. £600-800); the Laor example with "occasional slight browning", in contemporary vellum fetched £450 (est. £250-300), while the example in the library of Gentleman, one of two items in the lot, with one map only, was unsold at £400 (est. £500-700).