Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books at Swann June 3

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Early seventeenth-century Italian celestial globe. Estimate $15,000 to $20,000.
Early seventeenth-century Italian celestial globe. Estimate $15,000 to $20,000.

New York—Swann Galleries’ Thursday, June 3 sale of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books will feature world cartography with an emphasis on American maps, works from prolific printmakers and ornithologists.

World maps on offer include offerings of a fine early seventeenth-century Italian celestial globe comprised of 12 hand-colored engraved gores by Giuseppe de Rossi, after an earlier globe created by Jodocus Hondius in Amsterdam in 1601 ($15,000-20,000); and five double-page engraved maps of the world and continents by Mercator (family) are on offer ($7,000-10,000).

American maps features an 1813 military and topographical atlas of the United States by John Melish ($4,000-6,000); Phelps’ Map of the United States, from the Best Authorities, an 1838 engraved wall map by Humphrey Phelps ($3,500-5,500); and Americae Sive Novi Orbis, Nova Descripto, 1598, by Abraham Ortelius ($3,000-5,000). Regional charts include an 1808 plan of the city of Philadelphia and its environs by John Hills ($4,000-6,000); an 1845 hand-colored engraved pocket map of New Orleans by Benjamin Moore Norman ($3,000-5,000); an 1849 finely detailed lithographed pocket map of the gold, silver and quicksilver regions of upper California by John T. Lawson ($2,500-3,500); and one of the earliest books on the history of seventeenth-century Swedish settlements in mid-Atlantic North America by Tobias E. Biorck ($3,00-5,000).

Historical prints, natural history and color plate books prominently feature in the sale ranging from a robust selection of Currier & Ives and John James Audubon to works on botany, chirography (handwriting) and Japanese ephemera. 

Currier & Ives, after A.F. Tait, Life of a Hunter, 1861. Estimate $15,000 to $20,000.
Currier & Ives, after A.F. Tait, Life of a Hunter, 1861. Estimate $15,000 to $20,000.

Currier & Ives prints include a series of large-folio hand-colored lithographs Life of a Hunter, “A Tight Fix,” 1861, an illustration of an American frontiersman and a large black bear engaged in a fierce clash in the snowy wilderness ($15,000-20,000); and Life of a Hunter, “Catching a Tartar,” 1861, portraying a stunned sportsman stormed by an angry stag ($3,000-5,000). By Nathaniel Currier is American Winter Scenes, 1854 ($3,000-5,000), and American Farm Scenes No 4, 1853 ($3,000-5,000).

A run of John James Audubon hand-colored lithographs includes Red-Throated Diver, Plate CCII, 1834 ($6,000-9,000); Willow Grous or Large Ptarmigan, Plate CXCI, 1834 ($6,000-9,000); and Whip-Poor-Will, Plate LXXXII, 1833 ($5,000-7,500), each from Birds of America. Also of note is American Bison or Buffalo, Plate LVII, 1845, from Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America ($5,000-7,500).

On botany is The North American Sylva and The North American Sylva… Not Described in the Work of F. Andrew Muchaux, 1865, with 156 hand-colored engraved plates and 121 lithographed plates by Thomas Nuttall and F. Andrew Michaux ($1,200-1,800); and Lindenia: Iconographie des Orchidees, 1899, 48 chromolithographed plates of orchid varieties ($700-1,000). Relating to chirography are François Nicolas Bédigis’s l’Art d’Ecrire, Demontre par des Principes Approfondis, et Developpes dans Toute Leur Etendue, 1768 ($500-600); and Thomas Astle’s The Origin and Progress of Writing, as Well Hieroglyphic as Elementary, 1784 ($200-250). A broad selection of Japanese works on cookery, sake, samurai, textile design and more also feature.

Limited previewing (by appointment only) will be available through June 2, to be scheduled directly with the specialist in advance and conforming to strict safety guidelines. Swann Galleries staff will prepare condition reports and provide additional photographs of material on request. Advance order bids can be placed with the specialist for the sale or on Swann’s website, and phone bidding will be available. Live online bidding platforms will be the Swann Galleries App, Invaluable, and Live Auctioneers. The complete catalogue and bidding information is available at and on the Swann Galleries App.

Additional highlights can be found here.


Lot 23: Early seventeenth-century Italian celestial globe. Estimate $15,000 to $20,000.

Lot 295: Currier & Ives, after A.F. Tait, Life of a Hunter, 1861. Estimate $15,000 to $20,000.

Auction date: Thursday, June 3, at 10:30 am

Specialist: Caleb Kiffer • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 17

Chief Marketing Officer: Alexandra Nelson • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 19

Public Relations Associate: Kelsie Jankowski • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 23

Social media: @swanngalleries  

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Swann Auction Galleries is a third-generation family business as well as the world’s largest auction house for works on paper. In the last 75 years, Swann has repeatedly revolutionized the trade with such innovations as the first U.S. auction dedicated to photographs and the world’s only department of African-American Fine Art. More than 30 auctions and previews are held annually in Swann Galleries’ two-floor exhibition space in Midtown Manhattan, and online worldwide. Visit for more information.

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