Now through February 12: Old World Auctions' First Sale of 2020

- by Thomas C. McKinney


A few highlights from Old World Auctions' ongoing sale

With bidding already live, Old World Auctions’ first sale of 2020 will be accepting bids until February 12th. This is a sizeable sale—778 lots of maps and other cartographic material, books, prints, manuscripts, and documents. Old World Auctions has conducted auctions for over forty years at this point, and in that time, they’ve offered 100,000+ maps and atlases for sale. With that number in mind, it seems rather impressive then that 125 items in sale are appearing for the first time at auction with them. Old World is first and foremost a leading source of maps and atlases, and it’s no surprise that the lots I’m highlighting here fall under these categories. Let’s take a look.


Herman Moll’s A New and Exact Map of the Dominions of the King of Great Britain on ye Continent of North America of 1731 is (maybe affectionately?) known as the “Beaver Map” because of a vignette on the map depicting numerous beavers constructing a damn at Niagara Falls. The map is important—widely considered to be one of the first maps that attempts to put on paper the emerging boundaries and the accompanying dispute between the French and British colonies in North America. For collectors of early colonial America, this is a prize, and it’s the first time Moll’s work has come to an Old World Auctions sale. The beavers are estimated $17,000 to $20,000.


Our next highlight is more than 200 years younger than Moll’s North American map. Published in 1943 to commemorate the Atlantic Charter and to help boost morale during World War II, the rare Spanish edition of MacDonald Gill’s “Time & Tide” map of the Atlantic Charter is a detailed work of art. This map is estimated $3,250 to $4,250 and is another first-time appearance at Old World Auctions. If the style of the artist appeals to you, the auction also includes plans of Paris, Washington D.C., and Quebec City in the same style.


One last first timer at Old World Auctions for this preview is John Arrowsmith’s The London Atlas of Universal Geography, Exhibiting the Physical & Political Divisions of the Various Countries of the World, a second edition of 1835 (first published in 1834). With more than 50 double-page maps, the world over is well-represented in this hand-colored atlas.


The entire catalogue for Old World Auctions’ upcoming sale is available online here. The site’s format allows easy browsing of specific categories of material like maps by location and different types of printed material. Bidding closes on Wednesday, February 12.