Records & Results: Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books

Maps were so plentiful at our December 5 auction of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books that one could be forgiven for getting lost. Many buyers chose to bid in person, contributing to a strong sell-through rate of 84%.


Lot 77: Richard Hakluyt, Novus Orbis, first printed use of “Virginia” on a map, Paris, 1587.
Sold December 5, 2017 for $80,000.


The highlight of the sale was Richard Hakluyt’s 1587 map of the New World, Novus Orbis—the first to use the designations “Virginea” and “Nuevo Mexico.” It was 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. In its first appearance at auction since 1917, the Hakluyt map brought $80,000.


Lot 62: Paolo Forlani & Bolognino Zaltieri, Il Disegno del discoperto della noua Franza, Venice, 1566. Sold December 5, 2017 for $47,500.


Maps represented more than half of the auction’s offerings. A masterwork of sixteenth-century Venetian cartography, Bolognino Zaltieri’s 1566 rendering of North America in the Lafreri style depicted the mythical northwest Strait of Anian, dividing the continents of Asia and North America; it sold for $47,500. Maps by Martin Waldseemüller performed well, with the captivating woodcut Tabula Terre Nove, 1513—the first map of the Americas to appear in an atlas—selling to a collector for $27,500. A hand-colored map of the same year brought $18,750. John Smith’s 1616 map of New England, called the “foundation map” of the region, realized $35,000.


Lot 331: John Gerrard Keulemans, Ornithological Watercolors, nine watercolors drawings of birds and one hand-colored lithograph, England, late 1800s. Sold December 5, 2017 for $6,500.


Not everything in the sale concerned cartography. A fine book of detailed watercolors of birds by John Gerrard Keulemans reached $6,500, above a high estimate of $2,500. Similarly, the ink-and-watercolor sketch Golden Eagle and Ptarmigan by Louis Agassiz Fuertes flew past its $3,000 high estimate to sell for $12,500 to a collector.

Browse the catalogue for complete results.The next auction of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books at Swann Galleries will be held June 7, 2018. For more information or consign quality materials, contact Caleb Kiffer at