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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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PLAN VON BERLIN IM JAHRE 1804, AUF LEINE, HANDCOLORIERT, FALLTBAR IM SCHUBER
Mar 01, 11:00 AM CET
PLAN VON BERLIN IM JAHRE 1804, AUF LEINE, HANDCOLORIERT, FALLTBAR IM SCHUBER
by Auktionshalle Cuxhaven
Est: €0- €0
€1802 Bids
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A Collection of Engravings
Feb 27, 10:00 AM CET
A Collection of Engravings
by Veilinghuis de Jager
Est: €160- €300
€1001 Bid
Seltene große Karte "L´Empire d' Allemagne", Sanson um 1680, gerahmt
Mar 08, 10:00 AM CET
Seltene große Karte "L´Empire d' Allemagne", Sanson um 1680, gerahmt
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €300- €360
€201 Bid
An 1809 folding map of the postal routes of France (Carte itinéraire de la France, 1809)
Feb 28, 10:00 AM PST
An 1809 folding map of the postal routes of France (Carte itinéraire de la France, 1809)
by Andrew Jones Auctions
Est: $300- $400
$1401 Bid
4 MAPS OF EUROPE GERMAN AND FRENCH
Feb 29, 9:00 AM EST
4 MAPS OF EUROPE GERMAN AND FRENCH
by Fairhill Auction LLC
Est: $60- $80
$301 Bid
JANSSONS - A COLOURED MAP OF THE COUNTY OF WETMORLAND
Feb 28, 9:30 AM GMT
JANSSONS - A COLOURED MAP OF THE COUNTY OF WETMORLAND
by Hutchinson Scott Limited
Est: £60- £90
£300 Bids
[ZEELAND]
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CET
[ZEELAND]
by Auctions Van de Wiele
Est: €160- €220
€1600 Bids
Map: A 19thC engraved and hand coloured map of St. Petersburg / Sanktpeterb
Feb 26, 9:00 AM GMT
Map: A 19thC engraved and hand coloured map of St. Petersburg / Sanktpeterb
by Claydon Auctioneers
Est: £50- £100
£500 Bids
An early Dutch hand colored engraving map by Georg Balthasar Probst (1732-1801)
Feb 27, 10:00 AM CET
An early Dutch hand colored engraving map by Georg Balthasar Probst (1732-1801)
by Ostantix Auctions
Est: €200- €300
€1600 Bids
NAMUR
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CET
NAMUR
by Auctions Van de Wiele
Est: €500- €800
€5000 Bids
NAMUR
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CET
NAMUR
by Auctions Van de Wiele
Est: €500- €800
€5000 Bids
[ITALY]
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CET
[ITALY]
by Auctions Van de Wiele
Est: €80- €160
€800 Bids
17th Century Hand Colored Engraved Map of Germany
Mar 03, 10:00 AM PST
17th Century Hand Colored Engraved Map of Germany
by Global Auctions Company
Est: $2,500- $3,000
$2,0000 Bids
gravure met voorstelling van het Hollands Duitse g…
Feb 29, 7:00 PM CET
gravure met voorstelling van het Hollands Duitse g…
by Veilinghuis Van Spengen
Est: €75- €150
€350 Bids
gravure met voorstelling van de kaart van West-Fri…
Feb 26, 7:00 PM CET
gravure met voorstelling van de kaart van West-Fri…
by Veilinghuis Van Spengen
Est: €100- €200
€500 Bids
Joseph Pinchon (manner), hand-painted Paris map
Mar 07, 10:00 AM EST
Joseph Pinchon (manner), hand-painted Paris map
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Zsuzsa Weisz, Map of Budapest and others
Feb 27, 11:00 AM GMT
Zsuzsa Weisz, Map of Budapest and others
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £200- £300
£1600 Bids
[OOSTKERKE]
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CET
[OOSTKERKE]
by Auctions Van de Wiele
Est: €120- €180
€1200 Bids
Lithograph After Wyeth & Map
Mar 01, 8:30 AM EST
Lithograph After Wyeth & Map
by Keystone Auctions LLC
Est: $50- $150
$250 Bids
A physical map of Europe with wooden strips, 1930s
Feb 29, 6:00 PM CET
A physical map of Europe with wooden strips, 1930s
by Greco Subastas
Est: €300- €400
€3000 Bids
[Carte murale]. [Canada]. BARTHOLOMEW (John).
Mar 14, 2:00 PM CET
[Carte murale]. [Canada]. BARTHOLOMEW (John).
by Gros-Delettrez
Est: €200- €250
€2000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Maps of Europe


Old World Auctions

Old World Auctions

Auctions Van de Wiele

Auctions Van de Wiele

Auktionshalle Cuxhaven

Auktionshalle Cuxhaven

Gros-Delettrez

Gros-Delettrez