Cartographic items and prints bring high bids at Swann auction of rare and important ephemera

Swann Galleries’ Dec. 4 auction offered a fine selection of 100 Rare & Important Maps & Atlases followed by Travel Books, Featuring Works on Africa; Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Historical Prints.

Among the map highlights was a very rare complete set of 52 engraved playing cards with cartographic subjects from around the world, printed in France, circa 1770, assembled in two small leather-bound albums, which sold for $14,400. All prices cited inclusive of 20 percent buyer’s premium. These charming little cards sometimes come on the market individually, but never before has a complete set been offered at auction.

The sale’s top lot was S.J.F. Verbiest’s Kun-Yü ch’üan-t’u, the Canton edition of the wood-engraved twelve-sheet map, circa 1856, which depicts China as the center if the universe. Though needing conservation, it brought $43,200 against a pre-sale estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.

Also far exceeding its estimate was Joseph Blanchard and Samuel Langdon’s scarce An Accurate Map of His Majesty’s Province of New-Hampshire in New England, engraved 2-sheet map, unjoined, London, 1761, which realized $36,000.

Other featured maps and views with American subjects included Edward Quin’s The Territory of Nebraska, Embracing the Public surveys up to the summer of 1858, lithographed folding pocket map, St. Louis, 1857, $15,600; J.M. Schofield’s Indian Territory with Parts of Neighboring States and Territories, a large photo-lithographed folding map on cloth, Washington, circa September 1869, inscribed and signed by 1st Lieutenant Henry Jackson, under whose supervision it was compiled, $19,200; and John Carwitham’s early view of Fort George with the City of New York from the SW, hand-colored engraving, London, 1794, $7,800.

Among the Travel Books of note were Richard Hakluyt, The Principall Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, three volumes in two, London, 1599-1600, $6,480; The Voyages & Travels of Sir John Mandevile, Knight, London, 1677, $5,040; Rudolf-Ernst Brünnow and Alfred von Domaszewski, Die Provincia Arabia auf Grund zweier in den Jahren 1897 und 1898 unter-nommenen Reisen und der Berichte früherer Reisender, 3 volumes, Strassburg, 1904-09, $6,960; and Theodore Roosevelt, African Game Trials, 2 volumes, New York, 1910, $6,000.

A stand-out among the books with plates was William C. Harris, The Fishes of North America, with 40 chromolithographed plates, New York, 1895-98. Rarely seen in the original parts, this beautiful copy with unbound plates sold for $4,560.

Featured decorative graphics included three large folio-size lithographs by William Heine, the principal artist on Matthew Perry’s historic trip to Japan, New York, 1855: Landing of Commodore Perry, Officers & Men of the Squadron to Meet the Imperial Commissioners at Yoku-Hama, Japan, March 8th, 1854, $6,000; Return of Commodore Perry, Officers & Men of the Squadron, and Passing the Rubicon, each $4,560.

A two-volume illustrated color catalog is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, and may be viewed online at

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