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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Christie’s to auction the library of Kenneth Nebenzahl on April 10

Christie’s New York will auction the private library of Kenneth Nebenzahl, renowned dealer, cartographic scholar and author from Chicago. Formed over the past fifty years, the collection includes some of the greatest rarities in the fields of cartography, exploration and Americana.

Agnese atlas. Estimate: $800,000-1,200,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2012

Highlights of the 165 lot auction include the ‘Liber Insularum Archipelagi’ of Cristoforo Buondelmonti, the most important Renaissance illustrated travel book of the Eastern Mediterranean. It is a primary source for the Aegean, with the famous bird’s-eye view of an as yet unconquered Constantinople (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000). This manuscript portolan atlas treats in considerable detail the geography and history of the Greek Archipelago. The woodcut charts of Bartolomeo ‘dalli Sonnetti’ show the same in first printed form (estimate: $150,000-200,000). Battista Agnese’s manuscript portolan atlas of circa 1542-46 is a tribute to the school of cartography that earlier equipped Columbus. Agnese was the first cartographer to chart Marcos de Niza’s American discoveries (1531-39), as well as those of Francisco de Ulloa (1539-40). Agnese’s atlases were produced as expensive collectors’ objects, often for presentation (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000).

Along with the outstanding manuscript atlases of Buondelmonti and Agnese are several important printed atlases. Prime among them is Antonio Lafreri’s Geographia, 1592. The figure of the Titan Atlas supporting the world is first used on this title-page and is the origin of our modern use of the term. Of the 72 maps in the atlas, 14 are known only by the surviving examples in this volume, and 18 are known in only two extant copies. The world map is one of only six copies recorded, and seven other maps are known in four copies or fewer (estimate: $500,000-700,000).

There are two of the great editions of Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (estimates: $30,000-40,000 and $40,000-60,000), the staple of 16th century cartography, and also his 1588 Epitome (estimate: $3,000-5,000). Ptolemy is represented by the 1515 Almagestum and Geographia, Basel, 1552 (estimate: $15,000-20,000). In the fields of modern astronomy are found Petrus Apianus’s Isagoge, 1521 (estimate: $10,000-15,000) and Galileo Galilei’s Trattato, 1656 in a very fine Roman presentation binding (estimate $12,000-18,000). The geography of the New World is recorded by Johann Huttich and Simon Grynaeus in Novus Orbis regionum ac insularum veteribus incognitarum incognita, both the 1532 and 1555 editions (estimates: $30,000-40,000 and $18,000-24,000).

The Spanish empire stretches here from Bartolomé de Las Casas Tratado, 1553 (estimate: $3,000-4,000) to Pedro Baptisa Pino’s La Ruina de la nueva España, 1811 (estimate: $4,000-6,000), while Alonso de Veracruz’s Speculum coniugiorum, Mexico, 1556 (estimate: $40,000-60,000) and Diego González Holguín’s Gramatica, Lima, 1607 (estimate $10,000-15,000), record its early impact. A broadside printing of the 1835 proclamation that established the city of Los Angeles is one of several important broadsides relating to the early histories of California and Texas (estimate: $4,000-6,000). Early British ventures are recorded in James Rosier’s exceedingly rare True relation, 1605 (estimate $180,000-250,000), Thomas Morton’s New English Canaan, 1637 (estimate: $50,000-70,000) and John Clarke’s Ill Newes from New England, 1652 (estimate $8,000-12,000).

The Native American is given vivid record in George Catlin’s North American Indian Portfolio (estimate: $80,000-120,000) and Edward S. Curtis’s North American Indian. The exceptional Nebenzahl set of Curtis’ masterpiece is found in extraordinary condition, on the more desirable japan vellum (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000). An original subscriber set, this is possibly the finest obtainable copy of Curtis’s great work.

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