There is a side effect of collecting in the age of the Internet that has been well-documented by my father: with so much material accessible, collectors are often compelled to drill down into very specific interests. This month, Old World Auctions is helping one such collector facilitate this transition in his approach. The collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, has decided to “downsize and shift focus” to Iowa-centric cartography—a subject near and dear to him. This trimming of the collecting fat has yielded an impressive single-owner sale that will be auctioned at Old World on June 9th. Read on for more information…
Over 250 pieces from a superb single-owner collection will be featured in the June 9 sale at Old World Auctions. Curated over two decades, this collection focuses on the European exploration of the Western Hemisphere, with numerous early and rare maps by Fries, Münster, Apianus, Honter, Ruscelli, Ortelius, de Bry, and Linschoten. The sale will include over 40 maps by famed Dutch cartographer Abraham Ortelius, including his important maps of the world, western hemisphere, Pacific Ocean, Arctic Ocean and Southeast Asia.
The collector has deep roots in Iowa and got his start collecting maps of his home state. While searching auctions for maps related to Iowa, he soon had the revelation that there were obtainable and relatively affordable maps from the 16th and 17th centuries. He recalls: “I bought a 1535 example of Lorenz Fries’ Orbis Typus Universalis. I still remember marveling that I held in my hand a map that had the word ‘America’ on it and showed the American continents, made from a plate that dated to the time of Magellan’s journey.” This map by Fries will be included in the auction, with an estimate of $6,000 to $7,500. Also included is Fries’ more decorative version of Waldseemüller's landmark “Admiral's Map” estimated at $9,000-$11,000. Another beautifully decorated and early map of Americas in the collection is Theodore de Bry’s Occidentalis Americae Partis, estimated at $7,500-$9,000.
As many collectors can attest, once you start down the path of collecting, it is easy for curiosity to lead you to new avenues of interest. In addition to pieces highlighting early exploration, the collection also features important maps and atlases from early United States history. Thomas Gamaliel Bradford’s “An Illustrated Atlas ... of the United States” (1838) has 39 hand-colored maps, including important maps of Texas, Iowa and Wisconsin, and is estimated at $6,000-$7,500. Also of note is Anthony Finley’s “A New General Atlas” (1824), which illustrates the rapidly developing western frontier and is estimated at $4,750-$6,000.
Although the collector has decided to shift his collecting focus, he reminisces about what his collection has meant to him. “My map collection has allowed me to be a time traveler, in a way, and go back in time and wonder what this continent looked like before [its] transformation, and during that transformation.” View the auction catalog for this collection online beginning June 2, with high resolution images and full condition reports on each item. Bids can be placed through June 9 at 10 PM Eastern. Register to bid at oldworldauctions.com/register or call (804) 290-8090 for more information.