Amazing views of Europe and the Arctic for £270,000

In the seventeenth century the rival publishing firms of Janssonius and the Blaeu family were locked in competition to prove themselves the best by creating ever larger and more lavish works. This time was known as the Golden Age of Dutch Cartography.

Examples of highly collectible works from both publishers are available this Thursday (May 6), but one set of them is slated to be clearly the top lot of the whole 179 lot auction of fine and rare books.

Janssonius Theatrum townbooks
Plate from a Janssonius townbook

That is a group of seven townbooks from Janssonius, known as the Theatrum Praecipuarum Urbium, printed in 1657. There were originally eight: Volume 1 is Belgium, 2 in the Netherlands, 3 is Germany, 4 is Austria, 5 is France and Switzerland, 6 is (Northern) Europe, 7 would be Italy and 8 is Spain.

The collection offered comprises overall clean copies with the plates in good condition and with good colouring though some plates are missing, especially in the first few volumes. The set has been given the grand estimate of £140,000-180,000.

The Arctic Regions, William Bradford
Plate from The Arctic Regions by William Bradford

Also appearing in the sale is a first (and only) edition of The Arctic Regions by William Bradford. This is a large folio work, expertly repaired to present 141 albumen prints by John Dunmore and George Critcherson displaying the Arctic as viewed during an 1869 journey to Greenland.

This is to go under the hammer with a guide price of £60,000-90,000. Sotheby's sale of rare and collectible books takes place in London, and we will bring you the results here.


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