Published: December 24, 2002
NEW YORK CITY — Maps and atlases, natural history and historical prints, and ephemera brought strong prices at Swann Galleries’ auction on December 12.
Atlases sold in the morning session included Claudius Ptolemaeus’s Geografia cioe Descrittione Universale della Terra, with a title vignette, 64 engraved maps and scattered illustrations, two parts in one, Venice, 1598, 1597, $5,290; The Complete Atlas of Modern Classical and Celestial Maps, with 213 engraved terrestrial maps, plus six celestials, each hand colored in outline, two volumes, London, 1860, $3,220; and Jan Blaeu’s Le Grand Atlas ou Cosmographie Blaviane, a facsimile of the edition of Amsterdam 1663, 12 volumes, Amsterdam, 1967-68, $3,220.
Highlights among the maps included Hartmann Schedel’s “Secunda etas Mundi,” double-page wood engraved world map from the Latin language edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle, Nuremberg, 1493, $13,800; Abraham Ortelius’s “Americae sive Novi Orbis Nova Descriptio,” double-page engraved map, Antwerp, 1571, $3,220; Joannes Janssonius’s “America Septentrionalis,” double-page engraved map, Amsterdam, 1647 or later, $4,370; Johannes van Keulen’s “Pas Kaart Van de Zee Kusten van Virginia,” double-page engraved chart of the Chesapeake and Delaware bays, Amsterdam, 1684, $5,060; Matthaeus Seutter’s “Recens edita totius Novi Belgii, in America Septentrionali,” double-page engraved map, Augsburg, 1730, $3,680; John Rocque’s “A Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster and Borough of Southwark,” massive engraved 24-sheet map, London, 1746, $8,050; and Karl Bodmer’s “Map to Illustrate the Route of Prince Maximilian of Wied in the Interior of North America,” 1839-43, $6,900.
Books desired for their plates were offered in the afternoon session. Best sellers included Pierre Buchoz’s Premiere Centurie de Planches… pour servir d’intelligence a l’Histoire Generale des trois Regnes de la Nature, decades 1-7 (of 10?), containing 136 (of 140) engraved plates of animals, botanical and mineralogical specimens, Paris, 1782, $4,830; Friedrich Justin Bertuch’s Bilderbuch fuer Kinder, six volumes combining various sections from the much larger edition in French, German and Hungarian languages, containing more than 400 plates of animals, plants, birds, fishes, etc., Vienna, 1806-13, $3,910; Jean Louis Florent Polydore Roux’s Ornithologie Provencale, 292 hand colored lithographed plates and one uncolored lithographed plate only (of 451?), two volumes, Marseille, 1825-, $3,680; J.O. Lewis’s The Aboriginal Port Folio, Fascicles 2 and 3, containing 16 hand colored lithographed plates, Philadelphia, 1835, $5,980; and McKenney and Hall’s classic History of the Indian Tribes of North America, three volumes with 120 hand colored plates, tall, octavo edition, Philadelphia, 1858, $14,950. A group of 15 vellum leaves from several Latin Books of Hours, most with floral decoration, chiefly France, Fifteenth Century, sold for $3,220.
Individual graphics included hand colored engraved and aquatint plates from the double-elephant folio edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, such as the “Crested Grebe Plate CCXCII,” London, 1836, $4,600; “Long-tailed Duck. Plate CCCXII,” London, 1836, $9,775; and “American Ptarmigan/White-tailed Grouse. Plate CCCCXVIII,” London, 1838, $5,290. A pair of hand colored engraved plates of tulips by Basilius Besler, extracted from his Hortus Eystettensis, on large folio sheets, “Eichstadt” and “Nuremberg,” 1613, $5,060; and George Brookshaw’s “White Seed’d Rock, Plate LXV” and “Silver Rock Mellon, Plate 67,” two hand colored aquatints, extracted from the folio edition of his Pomona Britannica, London, 1812, $5,290, were among the attractive botanical prints. An unsigned proof before title of “The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak,” a large engraved print by J. Smille after Albert Bierstadt, New York, 1866, brought $3,910.
Noteworthy among a large selection of Judaica were Giovanni de Pian’s “Interior of a Synagogue” and “Venetian Jews Observing the New Moon,” two lovely large etched plates, Venice, circa 1784, $4,140. Original costume and set designs for the New York City Opera from the estate of John C. White, who had an illustrious career with the opera for decades, included Jose Varona’s gouache studies for costumes to be worn by Caesar and Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare, New York, 1966, $1,035; and a watercolor, gouache, and graphite stage design showing a theatre stage with clowns, for Rossini’s The Turk in Italy, by John Conklin, inscribed and signed to White, New York, 1978, $1,035.
The sale concluded with a selection of ephemera that included literally thousands of menus, almost all of which sold above the estimates. A group of approximately 240 menus from restaurants in California, most in the Frisco and La La Land areas, 1910s-1950s, fetched $1,610; a group of more than 350 menus from restaurants across the United States, including California, principally 1930s-40s, $1,380; and a group of approximately 110 wine lists or cocktail menus from restaurants across the United States, principally 1930s-40s, $1,150.
All prices include buyer’s premium.
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