AE Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2008 Issue

Fifty Spectacular Items of Cartography from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

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Cartography III from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books.


By Michael Stillman

Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books
has issued their third in a series of map catalogues, Cartography III. This is a magnificent catalogue of important maps, atlases, charts, views and globes. It is also one of the most detailed presentations you will find – 168 illustrated and thoroughly described pages to cover just 50 items. Shapero calls these works their "favourite items," with dates ranging from as far back as 1475 to as recent as 1916. Here are a few of the extraordinary items that have made their way into this very special presentation.

The first item in the catalogue is a most appropriate starting point. It is the Rudimentum Novitiorum, a very early printed world history, printed in Lubeck, Germany, in 1475. This history had more of a theological bent than history books of today. It was really meant more to explain the Bible. However, it also contains the first printed maps that were more than just simple diagrams. Price on request.

Item 8 is perhaps the greatest atlas of all, Johannes Blaeu's Atlas Major. The 17th century Dutch atlases were likely the best ever produced, and this one represents the height of their art. It includes 11 volumes containing almost 600 maps and plates, many covering double pages. There are 58 maps of England, 96 of Germany, even 25 of America, though this is from an early date. Offered is an edition from 1665. £400,000 (approximate US equivalent of $794,000).

Item 24 is a unique and very special atlas, created specifically for royalty. It is called Cartes du Theatre de la Guerre en Allemagne 1759 (maps for the war in Germany in 1759). It was prepared by the Geographer to the French King, Georges Louis Le Rouge, for the education of the eight-year-old Duc de Bougogne (Louis Joseph Xavier). The young Duke was the son of the Dauphin, Louis-Ferdinand, and was being prepared for the eventual day when he would succeed his grandfather, King Louis XV, and his father to the throne. After all, he was the eldest living child of the heir to the throne. Therefore, it was necessary for him to understand the intricacies of the war and its campaigns at the tender age of eight. However, sometimes expectations never come to pass, and there was much tragedy in store for this family. The young Duke would die in 1761, before reaching his tenth birthday. His father, too, never reached the throne, dying before his father. When the old King Louis XV finally died in 1774, the throne would in time be passed down to three of the late Duke's younger brothers, the first of whom, Louis XVI, was guillotined during the French Revolution. £25,000 (US $49,600).

Item 44 is the White, Gallagher and White Mapa de los Estados Unidos de Mexico (Map of the United States of Mexico). This was published in 1828, the first decade of Mexico's existence as an independent nation. It provides a look at Mexico at its most expansive size, pre-Texas Revolution, pre-Mexican War, pre-Gadsden Purchase. Mexico then bordered on the Oregon Territory, and included the current states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, as well as parts of others. £26,000 (US $51,585).

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