NEW YORK – Maps represent the ultimate marriage of art and science. Yes, they must be reasonably accurate – if they’re not, they’re useless – but given a choice between a map that is perfectly correct and one that’s correct but also has mermaids and monsters and fancy old ships swimming in its seas and an area marked “Here Be Dragons,” most people would take the second option.
On July 20, starting at 8 pm Eastern time, Jasper52 will conduct an auction titled Antiquarian Maps of the Western Hemisphere. Its lineup contains 147 lots of maps drawn decades, and in some cases, centuries before your grandparents were born. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
First among the highlights is a circa 1635 example that immortalizes a choice bit of wishful thinking. Designed by Jan Jansson and printed in Amsterdam, it depicts the Amazon region and the Guyanas. It also incorporates a large lake, dubbed Parime, and the allegedly nearby location of El Dorado. Neither the lake nor the city exists; we know that now. The hand-colored, copper plate engraved map is undeniably alluring, however. Measuring 21 by 17 inches, it is described as being in good condition and carries an estimate of $400-$500.
Another powerful offering is a 1683 map of the French and English colonies of North America, created by cartographer N. Sanson and published in Paris. It contains the first depiction of Lake Erie, as well as the Great Lakes basin and the St. Lawrence River, and it is also described as an “outstanding source for Indian tribal names and locations.” In addition, this example of the historic and influential map is in its first state, without a latitude and longitude grid. It is estimated at $700-$800.
Another head-turner is a Swedish map of North America dating to 1768-1774, just before the Revolutionary War. That’s hardly the most interesting thing about it. California is shown, correctly, as being attached to the mainland rather than as an island, which was a common depiction of the time. Further up the west coast, the mapmaker placed a sizable inland sea with a nameless island. Santa Fe is included, and British and Spanish territories are noted. A true rarity, the map, created by A. Akerman and published in Stockholm, is estimated at $1,100-$1,500.
View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/