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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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1945 Vintage World War II Battles Map Wall Art Canvas - 32" x 40"
Jul 23, 9:00 PM EDT
1945 Vintage World War II Battles Map Wall Art Canvas - 32" x 40"
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Est: $525- $625
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Normandy France Framed Map
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Normandy France Framed Map
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MOSES PITT (ST TEATH, REINO UNIDO, C.1639–1697) "DUCATUS HOLSITAE"
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MOSES PITT (ST TEATH, REINO UNIDO, C.1639–1697) "DUCATUS HOLSITAE"
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Europe. Japanese Military Map of European Naval Bases circa 1938.
Jul 24, 10:00 AM BST
Europe. Japanese Military Map of European Naval Bases circa 1938.
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alte Landkarte Danziger Reede
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Landkarte P. Schenk 1707- Braunschweig
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Landkarte P. Schenk 1707- Braunschweig
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alte Landkarte um 1580 Belgien
Jul 28, 11:00 AM CEST
alte Landkarte um 1580 Belgien
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Sleigh, Bernard, 'An Anciente Mappe of F
Jul 25, 10:00 AM BST
Sleigh, Bernard, 'An Anciente Mappe of F
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Est: £100- £150
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colorierte Landkarte von Ägypten und Umzu um 1780, ger/Glas, RG 63x75 cm
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colorierte Landkarte von Ägypten und Umzu um 1780, ger/Glas, RG 63x75 cm
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Sellers Who Sell Maps of Europe


Auktionshaus Kloss

Auktionshaus Kloss

A10 by Artmark

A10 by Artmark

Dominic Winter Auctions

Dominic Winter Auctions

Auktionshalle Cuxhaven

Auktionshalle Cuxhaven