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Maps of Africa

Antique maps of Africa are a combination of cartography and creativity. Half reality, half mythology, African maps add a colorful touch to map collections.

One of the earliest maps featuring the entire continent of Africa is a woodcut by 16th-century mapmaker Sebastian Munster from his "Cosmographia Universalis." It features a one-eyed giant, forest in the Sahara desert, and a ship sailing off the coast, a common addition to antique maps. Another notable early African map is "Africae nova descriptio" created in 1630 by Dutch mapmaker Willem Blaeu. It is a fine example of Blaeu engraving, elaborate pictures, and delicate calligraphy with oval cutouts of major African cities and ports. Like other antique maps of virtually unexplored territories, the map is representative of a European perspective of the unknown.

Later maps of Africa following the period of exploration continued a tradition of Eurocentrism. Maps of Africa from the late 1800s in particular reveal the struggle between European powers for the continent, as portrayed in the color-coded occupied territories and ill-defined political borders.


Quick Facts

  • "Africae Tabula Nova" by Abraham Ortelius sold for $2,400 at Old World Auctions in 2009
  • "Africa Prima Tavola" sold at Bonhams for $1,097 in 2011. This engraved map by Giovanni Gastaldi followed an early Ramusio-Gastaldi woodcut of Africa with two added sea monsters in the Atlantic
  • A 1593 engraved map of Africa by Cornelis de Jode with native figures on land and ships and sea monsters at sea sold for $3,108 in a 2011 Bonhams auction

Recommended Items at Auction

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Africa.- Waldseemüller (Martin) Tabula Quarta Africae, woodcut map, [c. 1513].
Dec 08, 12:00 PM GMT
Africa.- Waldseemüller (Martin) Tabula Quarta Africae, woodcut map, [c. 1513].
by Forum Auctions - UK
Est: £400- £600
£3001 Bid
(AFRICA.) Adrien-Hubert Brue. Carte Detaillee de l'Afrique et des Iles qui en Dependent.
Dec 08, 12:00 PM EST
(AFRICA.) Adrien-Hubert Brue. Carte Detaillee de l'Afrique et des Iles qui en Dependent.
by Swann Auction Galleries
Est: $600- $900
$4500 Bids
After WILLEM JANSZOON BLAUE (1571-1638) "Map of Africa"
Dec 19, 6:00 PM CET
After WILLEM JANSZOON BLAUE (1571-1638) "Map of Africa"
by Bayeu Subastas
Est: €100- €150
€1000 Bids
(AFRICA and the MIDDLE EAST.) Group of 4 seventeenth and eighteenth-century double-page engraved maps.
Dec 08, 12:00 PM EST
(AFRICA and the MIDDLE EAST.) Group of 4 seventeenth and eighteenth-century double-page engraved maps.
by Swann Auction Galleries
Est: $600- $900
$4500 Bids
(AFRICA.) Jodocus Hondius. Nova Africae Tabula.
Dec 08, 12:00 PM EST
(AFRICA.) Jodocus Hondius. Nova Africae Tabula.
by Swann Auction Galleries
Est: $600- $900
$4500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Maps of Africa


Swann Auction Galleries

Swann Auction Galleries

Forum Auctions - UK

Forum Auctions - UK

Bayeu Subastas

Bayeu Subastas