'Most famous' 17th century map of Asia auctions for $6,500

One of the most famous 17th century maps of the continent of Asia was sold by Old World Auctions of Sedona, Arizona, earlier this week.

By Willem Blaeu (Dutch, 1571-1638) circa 1635, the map is surrounded by beautiful carte-a-figures, including various Asian peoples, with a border richly ornamented with animals, sea monsters and sailing ships.

The map contains some fascinating 15th century misconceptions: the eastern coastline of Asia is severely truncated and Korea is shown as an island. Elsewhere, the Indian subcontinent is too narrow and the islands of Indonesia are very sketchy.

Blaeu's depiction of a large island labeled Ceiram probably represents the western part of New Guinea. There are also several large erroneous lakes in China, including the mythical Chiamay Lacus.

One of the most famous 17th century maps of Asia, by Willem Blaeu
(Click to enlarge)


Across the top of the map is a frieze featuring vignettes of the cities of Candy, Calecut, Goa, Damascus, Jerusalem, Hormuz, Banten, Aden and Macao. In particular, Blaeu's inclusion of Banten reflects the then-emergence of the Dutch as a major commercial power in the East Indies.

According to Old World Auctions, the historic manuscript has a short fold separation in its top blank margin which doesn't affect the map. It sold for $6,500, above an estimate of $4,000-$5,000, including Buyer's Premium.

Also featured in the sale was one of the earliest world maps available to the collectors, a 1493 work by Hartmann Schedel.

The last map to appear before the publication of Christopher Columbus's discoveries in the New World, it is still for sale and available to collectors priced $4,500, also including Buyer's Premium.


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