The Momentary - Bentonville, Arkansas - Feb 22, 2020

Cartographical Debut of ‘Virginia’ Being Offered at Swann

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • November 16, 2017

  • Email
Lot 77: Richard Hakluyt, Novus Orbis, engraved folding map, showing first printed use of “Virginia,” Paris, 1587. Estimate $40,000 to $60,000.

Important cartographical milestones abound in Swann Galleries’ auction of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books on Tuesday, December 5. The sale promises to be one of the best the department has ever offered, with the estimated total exceeding $1,000,000.

            Richard Hakluyt’s 1587 map of the New World, Novus Orbis, is the first to use the designations “Virginea” and “Nuevo Mexico.” The map, valued at $40,000 to $60,000, is not known to have appeared at auction since 1917. It is one of a selection of duplicates from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Collection, originating in the William C. Wooldridge Map Collection, which was generously donated by the Virginia Cartographical Society in 2017. All proceeds from the sale of these lots will be used to support this important acquisition and the collections at Colonial Williamsburg.

Leading the sale is the 1810 edition of John Norman’s scarce The American Pilot, with 11 spectacular folding charts. This monumental atlas signaled the end of British supremacy over U.S. waters, providing an accurate and comprehensive representation of the coastline. Rarely offered complete, it is estimated at $80,000 to $120,000.

Additional atlases include a bound copy of Giovanni Battista Nicolosi’s 1671 Hercules Siculus sive Studium Geographicum ($10,000 to $15,000), and Claudius Ptolemaeus’s Geographicae Enarrationis Libri Octo, 1525, with 50 woodcut maps, comprised of 27 ancient representations according to Ptolemy, and 23 “modern” maps, with a value of $25,000 to $35,000. Important works by Abraham Ortelius include the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1584, and a superb example in full color of Parergon, 1609 ($25,000 to $35,000 and $15,000 to $25,000, respectively).


A highlight among a prodigious selection of maps is a previously unrecorded global wall map by Cornelis Danckerts, after Frederick De Wit, of which a similar copy exists at the Leiden Library. The present, larger map is expected to sell between $25,000 and $35,000. A masterwork of sixteenth-century Venetian cartography, Bolognino Zaltieri’s 1566 rendering of North America in the Lafreri style is only second map to depict the mythical northwest Strait of Anian, dividing the continents of Asia and North America ($30,000 to $50,000). An important map of New England by Captain John Smith,1616, is valued at $20,000 to $30,000, while William Blaeu’s Insulae Americanae in Oceano Septentionalis, 1634, is expected to bring $15,000 to $20,000.

Lot 293: John Norman, The American Pilot, with 11 double-page or folding charts, Boston, 1810. Estimate $80,000 to $120,000.

The first map devoted to the Americas ever to appear in an atlas, the strikingly graphic woodcut Tabula Terre Nove, 1513, by Martin Waldseemüller, is in the sale with an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. Also by Waldseemüller is Orbis Typus Universalis, 1513 ($15,000 to $25,000).

Important non-cartographical material is also available. A run of etchings by the satirist James Gillray features one of his most beloved scenes: The Plumb-Pudding in Danger, 1805, carries an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. Manuscript material includes a seventeenth-century volume of primarily English heraldic coats of arms in ink and gouache, and an 1856 album of watercolors depicting samurai, Japanese landscapes and military fortifications ($2,000 to $3,000 and $1,500 to $2,500, respectively). Called “the finest set of fish engravings printed in America in the nineteenth century,” Samuel A. Kilbourne and George Brown Goode’s Game Fishes of the United States, 1879, with 20 mounted chromolithographed plates, is notable for its active and life-like depictions of North American fish species ($10,000 to $15,000). Other natural history plates in the sale primarily depict birds, with numerous examples by John James Audubon and Louis Agassiz Fuertes.

Lot 294: Abraham Ortelius, Parergon, with 38 double-page hand-colored maps, Antwerp, 1609. Estimate $15,000 to $25,000.

The oldest item in the sale is double-page Ptolemaic map of the world from Hartmann Schedel’s Liber Chronicarum, more popularly known as the Nuremberg Chronicle. Printed in 1493, the map is one of the last representations of the known globe before Christopher Columbus’s journey to the Americas. The map is flanked by examples of oddities, including a snake-necked man ($6,000 to $9,000).

The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at

Swann Galleries
104 25th Street
6th Floor
Swann Auction Galleries, New York
(212) 254-4710

  • Email


Clarke Auction - December 15
Gianguan Auctions - December 16

ARTFIXdaily Artwire