Published: May 18, 2017
NEW YORK CITY — On Wednesday, June 7, at 1:30 pm, Swann Galleries will hold an auction of maps and atlases, natural history and color plate books, with highlights from the colonization of the Americas, as well as botanical prints and original watercolors.
The sale will be led by Samuel Baker’s untrimmed and unjoined A New and Exact Map of the Island of St. Christopher in America, 1753, which shows the island, now better known as St. Kitts, divided into parishes with a wealth of early information relating to structures on the island, as well as the surrounding waters. The borders of each of the four sheets are decorated in an elaborate Baroque style ($20/30,000).
The sale promises a trove of rare early maps of the United States. Selections include a 1750 map of Pennsylvania by Lewis Evans, whose publication in Germany helped spark emigration to the state, resulting in the still-traditional Pennsylvania Dutch population ($10/15,000). John Ogilby and Arnoldus Montanus’s America: Being the Latest, and Most Accurate Description of the New World, 1673 ($10/15,000).
Also on offer is a run of rare island maps by Aaron Arrowsmith, including a 1830 chart of Hawaii, then called “The Sandwich Islands,” which, according to an inscription on the back, was purchased in 1832 by a ship’s captain who made a voyage to the area two years later ($8/12,000). A Henry Briggs map shows California as an island, 1625 ($8/12,000) while making its auction debut is a hand-colored chart by Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres depicting Revolutionary War battles near Charleston, NC, 1780 ($8/12,000).
The 1740 through 1770 works of Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, official hydrographer to Louis XV, were compiled into L’Hydrographie Françoise, which boasts 92 charts at the forefront of contemporary scientific authority, accuracy and artistic appeal ($15/20,000).
Additional noteworthy atlases include a set of six double-page maps, circa 1600, by Matthias Quad, and the German edition of the popular small-format atlas by Jodocus Hondius and Gerard Mercator, Atlas Minor, Das ist, 1651, still in its original binding (each $8/12,000). Mercator is further represented by the first edition of his Ptolemaic atlas, Tabulae Geographicae, 1578, including 26 additional Seventeenth Century maps ($7/10,000).
Swann Galleries is known for historical material relating to the city. Unusual maps include the “Water Map,” as Egbert Viele’s Topographical Map of the City of New York, 1865, is colloquially known, and an archive of finely drawn street plans delineating the sewers of lower Manhattan, 1865–68 ($4/6,000). Also available in The History of the Province of New York from the First Discovery to the Year MDCCXXXII, 1757, by William Smith ($1,5/2,500). Making its auction debut is an 1891 atlas of the island of Manhattan, created for tax purposes and boasting fold-out maps of the city, of which the only other known copy is in the collection of the New-York Historical Society ($1,5/2,500).
Also in the sale are two large panoramic views of Prague, most notably an early state of Prag in Böhmen, circa 1740, the engraving by Johann Friedrich Probst after Friedrich Bernhard Werner ($2/3,000).
The natural history books category is led by a rare complete run of The Naturalist’s Miscellany, 1789-1813, with engravings by Frederick Nodder and his son Richard, and text in English and Latin by George Shaw; 24-volume set ($10/15,000). Also available are the hand-colored aquatint and engraving for the elephant folio plates of John James Audubon’s “Herring Gull CCXCI,” 1836, and “Wood Ibis CCVI,” 1834 ($7/10,000 and $5/7,500, respectively).
Also on offer are Nineteenth Century watercolor portfolios: a set of 55 depictions of the life and deeds of Napoleon and 25 ink drawings by Robert Cruikshank, intended to serve as models for his “juvenile dramas,” 1830s ($8/12,000 each).
Preview will be Friday, June 2, 10 am to 6 pm; Saturday, June 3, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, June 5, through Tuesday, June 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Wednesday, June 7 from 10 a.m. to noon.
Swann Auction Galleries is at 104 East 25th Street. For more information, www.swanngalleries.com or contact Caleb Kiffer at 212-254-4710, extension 17.
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