Record Price for Early Map of the World

This year’s autumn sales at Reiss & Sohn in Königstein finished successfully last week. Over 70% of total estimates were sold. Highest price was achieved for a coloured copy of the French edition of Braun & Hogenberg’s town book ‘Civitates orbis terrarium’ (€ 230,000, excl. premium).

A world record price fetched the extremely scarce 1477 Bologna printing of Ptolemy’s world map. The map shows the whole hitherto known part of the world and is the first copper printed map of the world, in a closer sense the first printed world map at all. The present copy was included in a special catalogue about the early mapping of the world up to 1600 and featured with an estimate of € 25,000. After extensive bidding it went for € 210,000 hammer price to a map friend who had made the trip to Königstein. The Ptolemy edition prepared by Laurentius Fries and printed 1522 for the first time in Basle made the knowledge of the newly discovered parts of the world known to a wider public. This is the first atlas featuring the name ‘America’ n a world map and its rarity was reflected by the strong € 65,000, granted by international trade. Many other rarities in this outstanding cartographical offer sold far above estimates at five-figure hammer prices. The total of the special auction on early world maps made 30% over high estimates.

Another special catalogue was devoted to books and maps about ‘Brazil’. Debret’s ‘Voyage au Bresil’ published in 1834 went for € 45,000. A rare set of watercolours of Rio de Janeiro created a small sensation: the modest estimate of € 1,500 made several collectors enthusiastic and a final bid was reached at € 28,000.

A coloured copy of Sebastian Münster ‘Cosmographia’ sold € 36,000. The ‘Neptune francois’ in 2 parts and contemporary colour went for € 30,000 to a European collector.

Amongst the early printed herbals a fine coloured copy of Dioscorides ‘De medicinali materia’, printed in 1549, went from estimated € 6,000 to € 24,000 hammer price. Plenck’s famous ‘Icones plantarum’ from 1788 sold at € 23,000 slightly below estimate. The ‘Flora Sinensis’ by Boym reached the estimate of € 40,000. In the science section Scheiner’s ‘Rosa Ursina’, a famous work on sun spots sold at € 16,000 slightly above expectations.

As usual the exceptionally large offer of rare maps met with good interest and sold at 90% of total estimates. A set of four continents of Clouet’s wall maps sold for € 22,000. A rare, though not mint copy of Visscher’s ‘Leo Belgicus’, published in 1630, went from estimated € 5,000 to € 17,000 hammer price.