Yesterday’s sale of Continental and Russian Books and Manuscripts in London achieved the highest price at auction for a printed book this year – £623,650/ $1,022,973/ €726,616 – with the sale of the most sought-after of all atlases, a first edition of Claudius Ptolemaeus’s 15th century colour atlas of the world. The sale achieved an overall total of £1,053,075 ($1,727,359/ € 1,226,939) against a pre-sale estimate of £803,900-1,165,000 and was 73.8% sold by lot and 85.4% sold by value.
Catherine Slowther, Sotheby’s Senior Specialist from the Books and Manuscripts department, comments: “We are absolutely thrilled with the sale of this rare and beautiful world atlas. The documentation in these maps marks the radical progress made in the 15th century in the awareness and understanding of the geographical situation of Europe, and very few copies of this important atlas survive complete and in such remarkable condition.”
The bound edition of stunning hand-coloured woodcut diagrams, including groundbreaking maps of Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Palestine, and the earliest depiction of Scandinavia and Greenland in a world map, represents the first atlas to be printed outside Italy. It is also the first to comprise a selection of ‘modern’ maps – maps based on new observations geographic discoveries which are more up-to-date than the previously classic Ptolemaic-style maps.