NEW YORK — Chronicling the advancement of knowledge of the world from the 16th through the 20th centuries, nearly 300 lots of historic maps and atlases head to market on Thursday, December 7 at Swann Auction Galleries. The catalog is now open for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Featured are maps of the American continent from its early colonial settlements, charts detailing the period of expansion in the West, and a 1929 chart illustrating the earliest established commercial airline flight paths in America.

Interestingly, the map sale’s top lot isn’t a map at all. Printed in 1834 and 1855, John Gould’s A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans is a set of two publications as referenced by the dates. The former is the original publication, while the latter is entitled Supplement to the First Edition. It features an uncolored anatomical plate and 53 vividly hand-colored lithographed plates of tropical toucans by Edward Lear and John and Elizabeth Gould. Printed in folio size (21.5 by 14.5in), the set is estimated at $40,000-$60,000.

Dated to the period between 1688-1697 is a set of 24 engraved gores (portions of a map) that would have been used to create Vincenzo Coronelli’s monumental 42in terrestrial globe. The lot consists of segments of laid paper, about 25.25 by 11in at each’s widest point. Engraved in late 17th-century Venice, the set carries an estimate of $18,000-$22,000.

An interesting anomaly from early cartography was the depiction of California as an island separated from the main of North America by a wide gulf, akin to the Sea of Cortez separating Baja California from the balance of Mexico. One of the earliest depictions of this phenomena was drawn by Pieter Goos in 1666 Amsterdam. Measuring 20 by 24.5in, his double-page engraved chart of California is “pleasantly designed and balanced with rhumb lines, scaled borders and attractive carto-ornamentation,” according to Swann’s specialist Caleb Kiffer. The map is estimated at $7,000-$10,000.

William Henry Cotton (1880-1958) began his career as an accomplished portraitist, but transitioned to caricatures when he began contributing to Vanity Fair magazine in 1931. His 1938 pastel and printed clippings collage ‘map’ titled Carriers of the New Black Plague features his trademark style lampooning various controversial world leaders of the period. It appeared in an issue of Ken magazine, a short-lived political commentary magazine that had many literary notables contributing, including Ernest Hemingway. The original illustration is estimated at $3,000-$4,000.