Beautiful 17th century map shows collectors the way forward next week

Old World Auctions has announced its latest auction, Sale 135, with 809 lots of fine maps, atlases, vintage prints, and medieval manuscripts, from the rare to the obscure, plus informative reference books. The online auction will close on Wednesday, February 16.

The wide variety of material in this auction spans more than 600 years; from a medieval manuscript leaf of circa 1360 and several of Schedel's 1493 maps, to a great satirical map of Europe published at the outbreak of World War I.

Great cartographers such as Speed, Ortelius, Mercator, Blaeu, Hondius, and Jansson are well represented and there are many other important and rare maps plus other highly collectible items. All collectors will find something to perk their interest.

One of the best lots is a rare copy of Nova Orbis Tabula, In Lucem Edita by Frederick de Wit, dating to 1670.

Nova Orbis map - Frederick de Wit
An extraordinary Nova Orbis map - Frederick de Wit
(Click to enlarge)

This is one of the most attractive double-hemispherical world maps of the late seventeenth century. The corners are filled with images of the seasons, the zodiac, and the elements, all combined within four well-composed vignettes.

At top left is a personification of Spring, who also represents Virgo, with the element of Air billowing her robes. The bull of Taurus and the ram of Aries are shown to the right.

The top right vignette represents Autumn, with the shore in the background illustrating the element Water. A putti holds a crab representing Cancer, and another holds the lion of Leo. The twins of Gemini flank the inset of the North Pole at top.

The lower left scene presents Summer and Earth with a wine-imbibing Bacchus and a scene of drunkenness The signs for Scorpio and Libra are held by two followers, while Sagittarius gallops in the background.

Winter holds court in the final vignette, with the element of Fire shown to the left. Aquarius is represented by a child pouring water into a basin. A group of raucous children in the background hold a goat representing Capricorn and a fishing pole with the double fish of Pisces.

In North America, the Great Lakes appear as one large semi-circle with an open western end, and the island of California is shownon the Briggs model with a flat northern coast, and a portion of Anian in the Pacific Northwest.

South America has the mythical L. Parime astride the equator, with the imaginary golden city of Manoa on its shores. Asia displays a Japan with an oversized Iedso (Hokkaido) shown on the map of the Western Hemisphere.

A partial coastline for Australia is shown, and both New Zealand and Tasmania are indicated by only one stretch of coastline. The inset of the North Pole shows Hudson Bay with two southern bays, and the inset of the South Pole is nearly blank save for the very tip of South America and Tierra del Fuego. This is the first state of the plate without cherubs in the cusps and no outside border.

The map has a nice impression and its original colour. A couple of tears entering the map at the top centre have been professionally repaired and the centrefold has been reinforced. There is some toning in the upper corners.

The piece is offered with an estimate of $4,750 - $6,000 and could make a strong investment.

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