Fine Antique Maps from Martayan Lan
An outstanding collection of maps from Martayan Lan.
By Michael Stillman
Martayan Lan has presented their Catalogue 43 of Fine Antique Maps and Atlases. This is a fabulous collection, including some of the earliest obtainable maps of the New World. Around half of the items are focused on the Americas, the remainder on other portions of the globe (or the entire globe). There are even a few extraterrestrial maps (that is, celestial maps), a few portraits of great mapmakers (Ortelius, Mercator and Hondius) as well as Indian portraits, and some atlases. We will focus on maps of America and the New World, but those who collect maps of other territories, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Arctic, will also find plenty to keep themselves occupied. Here are a few of the outstanding items Martyan Lan is serving up.
We will start with the world as it was known pre-Columbus. It had not changed much since Ptolemy's day. Item 3 is the 1493 map Secunda etas mundi, by Hartmann Schedel, taken from his Nuremberg Chronicle. This is the world Columbus would have known prior to setting sail. There is a Europe, Africa and Asia, but no America. The map contains images of various grotesque semi-human creatures, such as were imagined to exist in the far corners of the world. Martayan Lan notes that these images Europeans had of the inhabitants of far away lands led to their demonizing these people, and treating them poorly when the Europeans colonized their lands. Priced at $28,000.
There may have been no America in 1493, but by 1507, there was a large continent, at least in the southern hemisphere. Item 2 is the Johann Ruysch map of that year, Universalior Cogniti Orbis Tabula. Martayan Lan describes this map as "one of the Holy Grails of map collecting." It is the earliest acquirable map to show America. The Ruysch map shows a massive South American continent, but North America is not there, or almost not there. With the limited information available, Ruysch believed it was an extension of Asia. So, Newfoundland is the eastern most tip of Asia. Hispaniola is located approximately where it should be, but Ruysch concluded this must be Marco Polo's Japan. It is believed that Ruysch was the first cartographer of the New World to have actually been there, having traveled on some expedition at the turn of the 16th century to Newfoundland. Price on request.
Item 11 is a Blaeu world map, Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis, circa 1650. Naturally, the world was much better defined by this time, but there are two noticeably large errors. While Willem Blaeu had enough information on the east coast of North America from the English, French, and Dutch to portray it with some degree of reality, the other side of the continent, and most of its interior, were essentially unknown. The continent appears larger than Asia. Meanwhile, the great myth of the 16th through 18th centuries (pre-Cook) is displayed in all its glory - a massive southern continent larger than any other in the world. $25,000.
Fine Antique Maps from Martayan Lan
Democrats' 1884 map of land given to the railroads by Republican congresses.
Item 14 is the first acquirable map devoted entirely to the Americas. It is the 1535 Fries edition of the Waldseemuller map. It is not well developed, showing only a corner of South America, Central America, and a North America unrecognizable to anyone today. It was a start. $15,000.
By 1579, Abraham Ortelius, in his Americae Sive Novi Orbis, had figured out Florida and the east coast of North America, Baja California, Central America, the Gulf of Mexico, and the major Caribbean islands fairly well. However, South America is something of a blob shape, not yet looking anything like reality. Ortelius also was a believer in the mythical gigantic southern continent. Item 15. $9,500.
Item 24 is a French map from Guillaume de L'Isle, Carte De La Louisiane Et Du Cours Du Mississippi... but the subject is America. It shows almost all of what is today the United States, though the year was 1718. It is particularly notable as the first printed map to show New Orleans, and the first to carry the name of Texas ("Mission de los Tiejas"). $25,000.
Item 26 is an unusual map placed on a broadside. It is an election poster for the year 1884, with the heading, How The Public Domain has been Squander. Map showing the 139,403,026 acres of the people's land - equal to 871,268 Farms Of 160 Acres Each Worth at $2 an acre, $278,808,052, Given By Republican Congresses to Railroad Corporations. This is more land than is contained in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. This is taken from the 1884 Democratic platform, which also calls for these lands to be restored to the public domain. They weren't, but Democratic nominee, Grover Cleveland, did carry the presidential election. $1,650.
Item 67 is sort of an early American roadmap. It is seven unbound sheets prepared by John Fremont and Charles Preuss, Topographical Map Of The Road From Missouri To Oregon. Published in 1846, this was the map you really needed to travel the Oregon Trail. It provides great detail of the route from those who had traveled it before the trail became crowded. It also offers topographical information and warnings such as to keep guard against the Pawnees, who, "if they do not kill, will at least take what they can from the travelers by force if they are strong enough, and by stealth if too weak to act openly." $8,500.
You can reach Martayan Lan at 212-308-0018 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.martayanlan.com.
You will find many of Martayan Lan's books and maps listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.