Loading Spinner

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

See all items

bp parity badge
INVADER (Français - Né en 1969) Invasion de Paris - 2011 Carte d'invasion
Dec 08, 12:00 PM CET
INVADER (Français - Né en 1969) Invasion de Paris - 2011 Carte d'invasion
by Artcurial
Est: €0- €0
€402 Bids
Wandkarte Land Niedersachsen 1936 - Wall map of Lower Saxony 1936
Dec 04, 9:30 AM CET
Wandkarte Land Niedersachsen 1936 - Wall map of Lower Saxony 1936
by Berliner Auktionshaus GmbH & Co. KG
Est: €0- €0
€501 Bid
Sammlung
Dec 16, 10:00 AM CET
Sammlung
by Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen
Est: €140- €200
€1400 Bids
Saint-Pompain.
Dec 16, 10:00 AM CET
Saint-Pompain.
by Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen
Est: €100- €150
€1000 Bids
BRABANTIA III RHENI TABULA.
Dec 10, 1:00 PM CET
BRABANTIA III RHENI TABULA.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €200- €300
€1000 Bids
CARTE PARTICULIÈRE DES POSTES DE FRANCE.
Dec 10, 1:00 PM CET
CARTE PARTICULIÈRE DES POSTES DE FRANCE.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €100- €200
€500 Bids
"Karte von der Hessischen Herrschaft Plesse
Dec 04, 10:00 AM CET
"Karte von der Hessischen Herrschaft Plesse
by Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden
Est: €120- €240
€1200 Bids
LE VÉRITABLE PLAN DE LA VILLE ET CITADELLE DE TOURNAY.
Dec 10, 1:00 PM CET
LE VÉRITABLE PLAN DE LA VILLE ET CITADELLE DE TOURNAY.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €200- €300
€1000 Bids
LEODIUM.
Dec 10, 1:00 PM CET
LEODIUM.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €150- €200
€700 Bids
LEODIENSIS DIOECESIS TYPUS.
Dec 10, 1:00 PM CET
LEODIENSIS DIOECESIS TYPUS.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €150- €200
€700 Bids
Goebel Tile Map Of Germany
Dec 15, 11:00 AM EST
Goebel Tile Map Of Germany
by Willow Auction House
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Johnson's Map of Europe Hand-Colored Engraving
Dec 11, 11:00 AM EST
Johnson's Map of Europe Hand-Colored Engraving
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
SEBASTIAN MÜNSTER (1488 Nieder-Ingelheim - 1552 Basel)
Dec 04, 10:00 AM CET
SEBASTIAN MÜNSTER (1488 Nieder-Ingelheim - 1552 Basel)
by Auktionshaus Rotherbaum OHG
Est: €0- €0
€1200 Bids
STAMPA
Dec 07, 10:00 AM CET
STAMPA
by Aste Boetto SRL
Est: €50- €60
€500 Bids
European Maps And Ephemera From Mid-Century
Dec 04, 6:00 PM EST
European Maps And Ephemera From Mid-Century
by Lettieri Auction & Appraisal
Est: $25- $40
$150 Bids
Carte de la ville de Providence, Cushing and Walling, 1849
Dec 05, 12:00 PM CET
Carte de la ville de Providence, Cushing and Walling, 1849
by Geneve Encheres
Est: CHF150- CHF200
CHF1000 Bids
REINER & JOSHUA OTTENS - MAP OF FRANCE
Dec 08, 11:00 AM EST
REINER & JOSHUA OTTENS - MAP OF FRANCE
by Capsule Gallery Auction
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
Kolonialatlas und 10 Landkarten
Dec 04, 9:30 AM CET
Kolonialatlas und 10 Landkarten
by Berliner Auktionshaus GmbH & Co. KG
Est: €0- €0
€450 Bids
bp parity badge
SCHWEIZ
Dec 12, 10:00 AM CET
SCHWEIZ
by Schuler Auktionen
Est: CHF280- CHF380
CHF2800 Bids
Homann, Karte Wismar und Poel / Homann, Map of Wismar and Poel island
Dec 07, 2:00 PM CET
Homann, Karte Wismar und Poel / Homann, Map of Wismar and Poel island
by Kunstauktionshaus Günther
Est: €0- €0
€1000 Bids
Seutter, Karte Mecklenburg / Seutter, Map of Mecklenburg
Dec 07, 2:00 PM CET
Seutter, Karte Mecklenburg / Seutter, Map of Mecklenburg
by Kunstauktionshaus Günther
Est: €0- €0
€1500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Maps of Europe


Arenberg Auctions

Arenberg Auctions

Schuler Auktionen

Schuler Auktionen

Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen

Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen

Kunstauktionshaus Günther

Kunstauktionshaus Günther