• Valuable Manuscripts and Print auction at Christies

    Sale 7760

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    24 November 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 45

    CARTOGRAPHY -- ORTELIUS, Abraham (1527-1598). Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Antwerp: Gillis van den Rade 1575.

    Price Realised  


    CARTOGRAPHY -- ORTELIUS, Abraham (1527-1598). Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Antwerp: Gillis van den Rade 1575.

    2° (416 x 291mm). Engraved hand-coloured architectural title and 70 double-page maps. (Leaf A6 supplied at a very early stage, as evidenced by marginal worming affecting the first 28 leaves, title guarded and with small marginal repair and two small marginal chips, dampstaining extending through first and last 10 leaves, 5 maps with repairs to either central fold or to bottom margin, not into plate.) Later red straight-grained leather, rebacked preserving original spine (extremities rubbed, covers heavily scuffed). Provenance: Anthony Bacon (title with family motto 'Mediocria firma' painted in blue and contemporary presentation inscription painted in gilt to:) -- B. Turraeus -- B.L. (early 20th-century circular bookplate).

    Fifth Latin edition of THE 'FIRST ATLAS', WITH AN EXCEPTIONAL PROVENANCE. Anthony Bacon (1558-1601), was a spy in the pay of Burghley and Walsingham. He sent intelligence reports from France and Geneva between 1579-1581, before being ordered to undertake 'certain business for the queen' (ODNB) by Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, in Bordeaux in 1583. 'Undeniably a highly capable intelligence gatherer, a literate, experienced and informed man, with a formidable archive of useful secrets, whose talents - although divorced from flamboyant court life - were fully recognised by those players engaged in the complex negotiations of English and European politics during the last two decades of the sixteenth century' (ODNB). The Italian recipient remains frustratingly elusive (perhaps B. della Torre?), but he must have been worthy of receiving this extremely valuable gift. 'FOR THE FIRST TIME ... ALL THE ELEMENTS OF THE MODERN ATLAS WERE BROUGHT TO PUBLICATION ... Through its launching, pre-eminence in map publishing was transferred from Italy to the Netherlands leading to a hundred years of Dutch supremacy in all facets of cartographical production' (Shirley). Adams O-335; Alden 575/22; Van der Krogt IIIA, 31:013; Phillips 382; Shirley 122 (with the world map in his first plate, first state).

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