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  • Bonhams auctions map manuscript by Abraham Ortelius 'creator of the atlas'
  • Post author
    Will Davison
  • auctionsBonhamsmanuscriptmap

Bonhams auctions map manuscript by Abraham Ortelius 'creator of the atlas'

Bonhams' upcoming Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in New York takes place next week, December 15, offering a number of treats for collectors of rare historical maps.

Among these is Theatro d'el orbe de la tierra dating to 1602 by Abraham Ortelius (aka Abraham Ortels). He remains recognised today as the creator of the first modern atlas.


Abraham Ortelius's folio of
maps contains 118 examples
of his visionary works

Ortelius is also understood to have been the first person to speculate that the world's continents had once been joined before separating. In other words, he was a true visionary.

Abraham Ortelius's importance in history goes someway to explaining this rare map folio's $100,000-150,000 presale estimate. And the rest can be explained by the work itself...

Published by Jan Baptist Vrients in 1602, the folio measures 425 x 284 mm with entirely hand-coloured contents.

Three years after Ortelius died in 1598, his heirs transferred publication rights to Vrients who, based in Antwerp, Belgium, produced the cartographer's maps until Vrients's death in 1612.

This edition also includes Ortelius's famous and graphic map of Iceland (dated to 1585).

Within the folio are 118 double-paged engraved mapsheets. Many of these include multiple maps marked with Ortelius's hand-coloured woodcut initials.

According to Bonhams' condition report, this Ortelius book has moderate toning and some finger-soiling.


A detail from a map in Abraham Ortelius's Theatro d'el orbe de la
tierra (1602)

Restoration work includes a remargining of the title and repair work to the corner of the folio's first leaf, some oxidisation to restore green colours, and various repairs to text in the folio's first 20 leaves.

All in all, this folio's condition certainly isn't bad for a 600-plus-year-old manuscript.

Given the historical importance of its cartographer, this historic map folio will undoubtedly prove itself to be a highlight in Bonhams' upcoming New York auction.


  • Post author
    Will Davison
  • auctionsBonhamsmanuscriptmap