• The Wolfgang A. Herz Library:  auction at Christies

    Sale 2158

    The Wolfgang A. Herz Library: Important Voyages and Travels

    9 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 33

    PTOLEMY (Claudius Ptolemaeus, ca 100- ca 170). Cosmographia. Translated from the Greek into Latin by Jacobus Angelus. Rome: Petrus de Turre, 4 November, 1490.

    Price Realised  


    PTOLEMY (Claudius Ptolemaeus, ca 100- ca 170). Cosmographia. Translated from the Greek into Latin by Jacobus Angelus. Rome: Petrus de Turre, 4 November, 1490.

    Super-royal 2o (423 x 290 mm). Collation: A-C8 D-E6 (A1 blank, A2r Registrum alphabeticum, E6 blank); a10 b-g8 h4 (a1 blank a2r text, h4 blank); [1-68 76 (engraved maps, each printed from two copperplates)]; 2a-b8 2c6 (2a1r blank, 2a1v registrum super tractum de tribus orbis partibus, 2a2r-2c5r de locis ac mirabilibus mundi et primo de tribus orbis partibus, 2c5r colophon Hoc opus Ptholomei memorabile quidem et insigne exactissima diligentia castigatum iucondo quodam caractere impressum fuit et completum Rome anno a nativitate Domini .M.CCCC.LXXXX die .IV. Novembris. arte ac impensis Petri de Turre, 2c5v-2c6 blank). 173 leaves (of 174, lacking the final blank, substituted with an early sheet). Type 1:111R. Double column, 53 lines and headline. Initial spaces. 27 DOUBLE-PAGE ENGRAVED MAPS, 4 woodcut diagrams on a9v, a10r (2), and a10v. (4th map of Asia supplied from a slightly shorter copy, two blank corners of world map renewed, e1 with tiny rust-hole patched and with two letters of text supplied, a few minor marginal wormholes to first 5 and last 12 leaves neatly repaired, a few text leaves and maps with short tears repaired, a few leaves with some minor marginal repairs.) Contemporary German calf over wooden boards, the sides divided by triple blind fillets into compartments filled with repeated stamps of a large rosette, lion rampant and other small tools, brass clasps (one lacking) and catches, A TALL COPY preserving many deckle edges (sides scored, neatly rebacked with careful repairs to leather at edges and corners). Provenance: Claudius Caputwigrinus (early signature on A2 dated 1542 and on colophon leaf dated 1540); Jacques Senert (early signature on A2); Verona, 18th-century inscription ("Verone fra gli Arcadi Alcimede Lydio" on A2 and "Verone" on front pastdown); anonymous consignor (sale Christie's New York, 22 November 1985, lot 205).

    Second Rome edition. "This handsome edition is a reprinting of the copper-plate maps of the 1478 Ptolemy [the first Rome edition by Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Buckinck, whose] maps are considered the finest Ptolemaic ones produced up to the time that the great Mercator engraved his Ptolemy of 1578... It is believed that Sweynheym was the one who first thought of applying the very new art of copper-engraving to the printing of maps, and he might have taken a hand in the actual engraving of them himself" (World Encompassed). While the Bologna edition of 1477 was the first atlas to use copperplate maps, the present series is generally regarded as superior for its clear captions, accurate projections and overall design and there are indications the Bologna edition was hurried through the press. The captions were not engraved but stamped into the plates. The early Italian Ptolemys, particularly the Rome editions, are "superb testimonials of Italian craftsmanship without the picturesque but unscientific monsters of the medieval maps or the addition of the adventitious decoration of later work, relying for their beauty solely on the delicacy of their execution and the fineness of the material employed" (Tooley). BMC IV, 133; BSB-Ink P-861; Goff P-1086; HC 13541; Nordernskiöld 7; Sabin 66474; Shirley 4; The World Encompassed 40.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department