Ancient atlas from 1574 sells for $17,000 at Old World Auctions

Old World Auctions' sale of antique maps, charts and atlases on December 1 offered collectors and investors a chance to see the world through the eyes of some of its earliest cartographers.

And amongst the books, maps and manuscripts it was an ancient atlas that took the top spot.

Girolamo Ruscelli's "La Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandrino", an atlas featuring 65 maps dating from 1574, beat its low-estimate of $15,000 to eventually sell for $17,000.

The atlas, still bound in its original vellum, is the third edition of Ruscelli's translation of Claudius Ptolemy's Geographia, the important compilation of geographic knowledge from his time during the Roman Empire, and the 38 modern maps included (along with its 27 classic maps) show the great advances in geography during this time.

The maps, taken from finely engraved copper plates, feature several of the Americas. These include a seminal map of the eastern seaboard of North America and a map of Nueva Hispania that covers from Baja California, Mexico and Central America through Florida and the West Indies.

The antique map market has seen a surge in recent years, just as modern technology shown us our planet in greater detail than ever before. Maps that show the world as a mysterious place, with swathes of unexplored territory just waiting to be discovered, are becoming increasingly treasured by collectors and investors alike as both historical documents and true works of art in their own right.


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