18th century view of the world finds a home for £12k

After abandoning his intended career as a brewer, Matthaus Seutter became a pupil of the great engraver J B Homann.

He developed into an exceptionally accomplished map maker, eventually being honoured by Emperor Charles VI with the title of Imperial Geographer.

Atlas Novus sive Tabulae Geographicae (1740) is one of Seutter's works which give us an excellent idea of an 18th century European's view of the world. The beautiful, carefully drawn and coloured maps are very similar at a glance to our modern view of Europe, but distorted for Asia and Africa.

Matthaus Seutter Atlas map
Matthaus Seutter map of the world
(Click to enlarge)

The work was, as we reported, estimated at £8,000-12,000 in Dominic Winter's rare book sale on Wednesday. Bidders were certainly impressed with the work, and bids pressed it to its top estimate, selling for £12,000 (not including Buyer's Premium) making it the top lot of the auction.

It's always fascinating to see how people of different times and countries viewed the world. This is why a US institution recently paid $1m for a map on rice paper by Matteo Ricci, who brought a 17th century European's geographical knowledge to China as a missionary.


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