Early descriptions of 'spherical maps' go under the hammer for $50,000

Bloomsbury Auctions held a sale of Travel Books, Autographs, and Literature in New York. As is often the case, many of the most exciting books and manuscripts on offer in the 579 lot auction were early maps and guides, based on descriptions of the world from times when travel was very difficult.

In this case, a particularly interesting work was one by Johann Schoener, who pioneered the idea of depicting the world as a globe, or spherical map, for clarity and aesthetics in Europe. His famous globe of 1515 caused quite a stir.

Of course, Schoener needed to drum up interest before that otherwise few people would have picked up on the idea, so he published a book expounding the benefits of the idea.

Luculentissima quaeda[m] terrae totius descriptio: cu[m] multis utilissimis Cosmographiae iniciis (A very clear description of the whole earth, with many useful cosmographic elements) presentedWaldseemullers concepts of 1507 of the world in spherical (globe) form.

Johann Schoener's book relating to his 1515 globe
Johann Schoener's book relating to his 1515 globe

The work includes near-full-page text woodcuts of Schoener's famous globe of 1515, of the armillary sphere, and of a circular world map. Only a handful of examples of globes or their source materials survive.

Extremely rare, the copy of this work appearing at Bloomsbury is only the third to appear at auction in the past 30 years, and it was offered with a listing of $40,000-60,000. It left the stage at $50,000 (including Buyer's Premium).

In the same auction, a briefcase from John Steinbeck's collection was also offered, containing documents relating to his close friendAmerican marine biologist, ecologist and philosopher Ed Ricketts.

Ricketts was Steinbeck's collaborator on The Sea of Cortez, and also, was the original for the character of 'Doc' in Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday.

Offered at $9000-$12000, excited bidders pushed the work all the way up to $22,500.


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