|This small sale, of slightly less than two hundred lots, was perhaps
the most interesting of the June season in London. Sections included
falconry and hawking, letters from Edward, Prince of Wales (subsequently
Edward VII), and manuscripts and books sold by order of the Fairfax Library
Settlement. However, only a few of the items from the latter group
were cartographic, there was also a small section of 6 maps of North America
from the Colonial period.
These six maps were all originally housed in the Dépôt des Cartes et Plans de la Marine, the Hydrographical Office of the French Admiralty. Apparently, a large collection of such material was deemed surplus to requirements and sold through a small French auction house, in the mid 1950's, where the current consignor acquired many items, which he has been filtering out through Sotheby's and Bonhams over the past few years. These maps are among the most interesting as relating to the two main colonial struggles in America, the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War, and represent the best of the colonial cartography, for several of the areas.
All the maps bear the Dépôt stamp on the face of the map, and most have some worming associated with the group of maps from the Dépôt source
|The first lot 64, was a French chart of Boston harbour by the Chevalier
de Beaurain. Saddled with a high estimate (a slightly nicer example
from the same source sold at Sotheby's in December 2000 for £7,500),
this lot did well to sell at £7,000.
|The next lot, 65, was the first state of William Faden's map of New
Jersey, surveyed by the military engineer Bernard Ratzer, and published
in 1777. This was the most important map of the province from the
Revolutionary War period, although not as valuable as it should be. This
example was dissected and laid on canvas, with original outline colour.
The final price, £5,200 against an estimate of £3,000-3,500,
was highly commendable.
|Lot 66 was a single sheet reduction of Claude Joseph Sauthier's six-sheet
map of New York Province, again published by Faden, in August 1776, with
Ratzer's survey of New Jersey incorporated. A good example, in original
outline colour, the winning bid was £2,000, against an estimate of
Pennsylvania is traditionally, and unaccountably, a difficult seller, and so it proved with lot 67, the English edition of William Scull's large-scale survey of the Province. The English edition was published by Robert Sayer and John Bennett in London in 1775, on three sheets joined. The Bonhams example, in original outline colour, laid on canvas, sold for £3,200 (estimate £3,000-4,000).
|By contrast, Virginia is traditionally a good seller, and the Fry and
Jefferson map (lot 68) is always a favourite with collectors of that region,
being the finest map of the province from the colonial period. The
map, on four sheets joined, was first published circa 1753, and re-issued
up to 1794. The first four states were all published separately,
and are known in only small numbers, and so command a premium on the later
states, which were published in atlases, and so are more commonly encountered.
The example on offer, state 4, had a little wear in the centre, at the
junction of the folds, but was generally a good example. Active bidding
took the map to £26,000, against an estimate of £8,000-12,000.
|Hutchins' map of western Virginia (lot 69) is another popular map, again a separate publication, on four sheets joined. It is based on survey work by Hutchins, who later became the first Geographer to the United States,. And is the best map of the 'Old Northwest' from the Colonial period. Again, this was a reasonable example of the map, albeit with some worming, and with original outline colour. The estimate of £20,000-25,000 accurately reflected existing prices established at auction, so it was no surprise when the map sold for £21,000.|
|For me, the highlight of the sale (and of the auction season) was lot
107, a manuscript volume, with a printed map inserted. The manuscript was
a record of the order of King George II in Council, establishing the boundaries
of Thomas, 6th Lord Fairfax's lands in the Northern Neck of Virginia, dated
St. James's [Palace, London], 11 April 1745. The map was seemingly
unconnected, apparently dating from 1737, the date of the survey mentioned
in the title. However, the map was clearly compiled as the cartographic
representation of the King's Order, after the event, with the boundary
line marked in the upper left, with the note confirming that the boundary
line depicted was as ordered by the King in the order of 11th April.
It is extremely unusual (possibly unique) to find for sale the King's Orders for boundary settlements with the accompanying cartographic material. On that basis, the estimate of £1,000-1,500 was always going to be low, even with the poor condition of the map, which had manuscript reinstatement and other repairs. Stiff competition required a winning bid of £32,000.
Lot 90 was Craven Peyton's manuscript survey of 300,000 acres of land fronting onto the Shenandoah River, dated May 7th 1772. A rather sketchy survey, it fetched £4,000 (estimate £1,500-2,000).
|There were also a smaller group of "lesser" items, but these also performed
Offered as lot 176 was Wenceslas Hollar's so-called 'Quartermaster's Map' of England and Wales, published in 1644 by Thomas Jenner, a Parliamentarian supporter, for use by military forces in the English Civil War. The map, on six sheets, was made "portable for euery mans pocket" by being folded into a narrow octavo format. The map is by no means scarce. However, repeated opening and closing, with careless binding often leaving the folds extending beyond the protection of the boards, means that examples generally turn up in poor condition, and often with loss. This example was unusual in having only a few problems with the folds, but the more so for being in attractive original outline colour. Nonetheless, the hammer price of £3,000 (estimate £300-400) seemed a very strong price (In this context it should be observed that an example of the same map apparently sold for £4,200 at Clarke Gammon, Guildford, in November 2000, but what the cataloguer overlooked was an additional folded map at the rear, which was the target of the two bidders concerned).
|Lot 191 was an example of Rutger Hermannides' 'Britannia Magna ...',
containing a general map of the British Isles, and 31 town-plans, for the
most part after the insets from John Speed's 'Theatre of the Empire of
Great Britaine ...' (1612). An uncommon little book, in 12mo., this example
achieved £750, against an estimate of £500-700.