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Maps of Europe

Antique maps are distinctive for their time-bound perspectives. Early maps made in Europe in particular tell a story about the motivations of the mapmaker. These flawed and inaccurate representations of the world are typically more rare and valuable than a precise model of geography.

Maps were a luxury of wealthy patrons. Therefore, a map was oriented toward the political or religious personal motivations of the person who commissioned it. Collectors may find it amusing to note the falsified political borders, region centrism, and other idiosyncrasies of these maps. European maps from the Middle Ages were made by monks and are consistently religious in nature, placing Jerusalem at the center. Maps made by monks typically feature extensive decoration with monsters and wild animals lurking at the borders of the known world.

During the Renaissance, the invention of the printing press and the growth of publishing houses made maps available to common people. The Age of Exploration opened up new worlds to map as well. Scientific discovery added to the accuracy of mapmaking and sparked a new interest in the art of cartography.

The Nolli Map of Rome is a groundbreaking work of urban mapping from 1748. Architect and surveyor Giambattista Nolli was a leader in ichnographic mapping, using geometric projections of structures with correct dimensions to show the urban design of the famous city. Modern surveys and satellite images of Rome, a city that has remained largely unchanged over the last 200 years, have proven Nolli’s map accurate to the smallest margin of error.


Quick Facts

  • "Nuova Pianta Di Roma," or Nolli’s Map of Rome, realized a price of $15,000 at a 2012 Christie’s auction. A number of fine reproductions of the work are available for sale
  • Antique maps often feature pictorial warnings of dangers in unfamiliar places. Ptolemy’s Atlas warned of hippos, elephants, and cannibals, while maps portrayed serpents, dragons, dog-headed beings, and men with horns. Interestingly, the famous phrase "Here there be dragons" never appeared on antique maps, although in did appear on the copper Lenox Globe
  • The 1482 Ulm edition of Ptolemy’s Geography atlas "Cosmographia" sold for $810,045 at a 2014 Sotheby’s auction

Recommended Items at Auction

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EUROPA RECENS DESCRIPTA.
Apr 27, 1:00 PM CEST
EUROPA RECENS DESCRIPTA.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €700- €800
€4503 Bids
EUROPA DAS EIN DRITTHEIL DER ERDEN / NACH GELEGENHEIT UNSERER ZEIT BESCHRIEBEN.
Apr 27, 1:00 PM CEST
EUROPA DAS EIN DRITTHEIL DER ERDEN / NACH GELEGENHEIT UNSERER ZEIT BESCHRIEBEN.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €300- €400
€2003 Bids
GALLIA VETUS [...].
Apr 27, 1:00 PM CEST
GALLIA VETUS [...].
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €200- €300
€1202 Bids
CAPTURED GERMAN MAP, USED BY WILLIAM J. DONOVAN
Apr 26, 10:00 AM EDT
CAPTURED GERMAN MAP, USED BY WILLIAM J. DONOVAN
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $300- $500
$1602 Bids
NOBILIS HANNONIAE COMITATUS DESCRIPTIO. PAYS DE HAYNAULT TENU DE DIEU ET DU SOLEIL.
Apr 27, 1:00 PM CEST
NOBILIS HANNONIAE COMITATUS DESCRIPTIO. PAYS DE HAYNAULT TENU DE DIEU ET DU SOLEIL.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €200- €250
€1001 Bid
25 VIEWS AND PLANS OF MECHELEN AND ITS MONUMENTS.
Apr 27, 1:00 PM CEST
25 VIEWS AND PLANS OF MECHELEN AND ITS MONUMENTS.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €150- €200
€701 Bid
Tony Sarg Hand Colored Map of Nantucket, circa 1926
Apr 27, 9:30 AM EDT
Tony Sarg Hand Colored Map of Nantucket, circa 1926
by Rafael Osona Auctions
Est: $500- $700
$2001 Bid
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Johannes Janssonius, Cyprus Insula. Amstelodami: Apud Ioannem Ianssonium, 1637.
May 14, 10:00 AM CEST
Johannes Janssonius, Cyprus Insula. Amstelodami: Apud Ioannem Ianssonium, 1637.
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €280- €560
€2801 Bid
SECOND BATTLE OF THE MARNE MAPS, USED BY COL. WILLIAM J. DONOVAN
Apr 26, 10:00 AM EDT
SECOND BATTLE OF THE MARNE MAPS, USED BY COL. WILLIAM J. DONOVAN
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $500- $700
$2401 Bid
BATTLE OF ST. MIHIEL BATTLE MAP, USED BY COL. WILLIAM J. DONOVAN
Apr 26, 10:00 AM EDT
BATTLE OF ST. MIHIEL BATTLE MAP, USED BY COL. WILLIAM J. DONOVAN
by Alexander Historical Auctions LLC
Est: $300- $400
$1401 Bid
LOW COUNTRIES -- BLAEU -- "SASSA GANDENSIS obsessa et expugnata". Engr. plain bird's eye
May 08, 1:30 PM CEST
LOW COUNTRIES -- BLAEU -- "SASSA GANDENSIS obsessa et expugnata". Engr. plain bird's eye
by Burgersdijk & Niermans
Est: €80- €100
€800 Bids
CARTE NOUVELLE DU DUCHÉ DE BRABANT ET PARTIE DE LA HOLLANDE.
Apr 27, 1:00 PM CEST
CARTE NOUVELLE DU DUCHÉ DE BRABANT ET PARTIE DE LA HOLLANDE.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €250- €350
€1200 Bids
LOW COUNTRIES -- OLDENBORCH, P. v. De belegering en verdediging van de Willemstad
May 08, 1:30 PM CEST
LOW COUNTRIES -- OLDENBORCH, P. v. De belegering en verdediging van de Willemstad
by Burgersdijk & Niermans
Est: €240- €300
€2400 Bids
LOW COUNTRIES -- DELFT -- "AFBEELDING der Stad Delft" (also called: "Kaart figuratief van
May 08, 1:30 PM CEST
LOW COUNTRIES -- DELFT -- "AFBEELDING der Stad Delft" (also called: "Kaart figuratief van
by Burgersdijk & Niermans
Est: €1,400- €1,800
€1,4000 Bids
LOW COUNTRIES -- LEIDEN -- "LUGDUNUM BATAVORUM, Leyden in Hollant". (C. 1610). Plain engr
May 08, 1:30 PM CEST
LOW COUNTRIES -- LEIDEN -- "LUGDUNUM BATAVORUM, Leyden in Hollant". (C. 1610). Plain engr
by Burgersdijk & Niermans
Est: €60- €70
€600 Bids
ORLIN, L.L. Assyrian colonies in Cappadocia. 1970. Owrps. (A few underl.). -- C.W
May 08, 1:30 PM CEST
ORLIN, L.L. Assyrian colonies in Cappadocia. 1970. Owrps. (A few underl.). -- C.W
by Burgersdijk & Niermans
Est: €70- €90
€700 Bids
MANUSCRIPT MAP OF THE WESTERN PART OF BRUSSELS AND ITS LARGE SURROUNDINGS.
Apr 27, 1:00 PM CEST
MANUSCRIPT MAP OF THE WESTERN PART OF BRUSSELS AND ITS LARGE SURROUNDINGS.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €300- €400
€1400 Bids
Spanien u. Portugal.
May 04, 10:00 AM CEST
Spanien u. Portugal.
by Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen
Est: €160- €240
€1600 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Maps of Europe


Gonnelli Casa d'Aste

Gonnelli Casa d'Aste

Burgersdijk & Niermans

Burgersdijk & Niermans

Arenberg Auctions

Arenberg Auctions

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC