Texas map brings $27,440 at Old World Auctions sale

A rare map of the Republic of Texas, created in 1843 by John Arrowsmith and titled “Map of Texas, compiled from Surveys recorded in the Land Office of Texas and other Official Surveys,” sold for $27,440 in an online sale held July 2-July 18 by Old World Auctions (OldWorldAuctions.com). It was the 120th antique map auction held by the firm, now 30 years old.

Texas was an independent republic from 1836-1845. Maps showing it in this expanded configuration are uncommon and highly sought after. The example by Arrowsmith carried a high estimate of $16,000, but it sailed past that figure and was the top lot of the sale. Over 700 lots changed hands and bidding was spirited, literally worldwide. All prices quoted include a 12% buyer’s premium.

“We saw a lot of activity on maps documenting the creation and expansion of the United States, as well as rare and exquisite maps from the 16th-18th centuries,” said Diane Kelly, Customer Service Manager and Maps Specialist for Old World Auctions. “Bidder interest was especially strong in Europe, due to the strength of the Euro, as well as in North and South America. It was a great sale.”

The auction was highlighted by a preview and gala party celebrating Old World Auctions’ 30th year of offering top-quality cartographic material. The festivities were held July 13-14 at the firm’s headquarters in Sedona, Ariz. The company has been based there since 1994, when the owners, Curt and Marti Griggs, bought the business from Tim Coss of Bethesda, Md. Coss started the firm in 1977.

In other highlights from the July auction:

A gorgeous example of one of the most beautiful maps of the world – Willem Blaeu’s “Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabula,” created around 1640 – was the object of intense bidder interest, selling for $24,640. The spectacular carte-a-figure map was bordered by allegorical representations of the seasons, planets, elements and seven wonders of the ancient world.

Father Eusebius Kino (1645-1711) was a Jesuit priest who traveled on horseback through the Santa Cruz basin and Baja area to disprove the prevailing notion that California was an island. The map he made of his resulting travels — “A Passage by Land to California, by ye Rev. Fathr. Eusebius Kino Jesuite between ye Years 1698 & 1701” — was sold, still bound into the source book, for $3,360.

The humorous, Prohibition-era “Bootlegger’s Map of the United States for Light, Medium and Heavy Tipplers,” was a hit with map enthusiasts and Americana fans alike, achieving $1,344 on a high estimate of $150. The map was created in 1925 by children’s illustrator Edward McCandlish, and is filled with booze-related plays-on-names of cities (such as “Chi-keg-o” and “Mashville” — groan!).

A spectacular thematic depiction of a cross-section of the earth’s core, executed in 1682 by Athanasius Kircher, brought $3,920, more than doubling its high estimate of $1,500. The map – titled “Systema Ideale Pyrophylaciorum Subterraneorum” — depicts the earth with a violently flaming magma core, volcanoes and interconnected waterways, topped with oceans and tall sailing ships.

An uncommon Revolutionary War map created in 1776 by an anonymous mapmaker and titled “A Plan of the City and Environs of New York in North America” garnered $2,016. The map was published in the London periodical Universal Magazine, and informed the British public of the growing conflict with the colonies. Like many other maps in the sale, it far surpassed its high estimate ($1,200).

An early map of Chicago harbor, created in 1839 by Captain Thomas Jefferson Cram, went for $2,352. The map, titled “A Plan of Chicago Harbor Lake Michigan,” located just two buildings in the city. Also, an excellent and very detailed map of Colorado, created by Louis Nell in 1906 and titled “Nell’s Topographical Map of the State of Colorado,” sold for $1,120 following vigorous bidding.

A scarce map created in 1677 by Pierre DuVal and depicting French colonization attempts in the Southeastern United States, soared to $2,576, double its low estimate of $1,200. The excellent example shows the landings of Ribault, Laudonier and Gourgues. Canada and Virginia are shown beyond the borders of La Floride.

Rounding out the top lots, a spectacular map of Italy by Jan Barend Elwe commanded $3,360, way beyond the high estimate of $650. The map, titled “L’Italie Dressee sur les Observations de Mrs. De l’Academie Royale des Sciences,” was created in 1792 and was in fine condition, with an ornate title cartouche. Italy was well represented in the auction, with many bidders there participating.

Old World Auctions’ next sale (Auction # 121) will go online September 10 and conclude September 26. The firm will be previewing many of the maps to be sold at the Denver Map Fair, slated for September 14-15 at the Denver Public Library. The event will be hosted by the Rocky Mountain Map Society. Auction # 121 will feature a fine group of exemplary items, to include the following:

An uncommon and handsome pair of celestial and terrestrial globes on original mahogany stands, made by W. & T.M. Bardin in 1807 and featuring the proposed state of Franklin (named after Ben and located in what is now western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, but never made a state).

A very early map of Washington, D.C., from Ellicott’s plan in 1794.

Old World Auctions holds five sales throughout the year, always as online affairs. There is no on-site auction (although phone and absentee bids are accepted). To cut down on last-minute bidding wars and dubious at-the-wire bid submissions, Old World Auctions implements a “10-minute rule” as a courtesy to bidders. See the website for more details: www.OldWorldAuctions.com.

To learn more about Old World Auctions, you may visit them online. To consign a historical map or an entire collection, you may call them directly at (928) 282-3944. The e-mail address is [email protected]

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