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He had seen the British Rail Pension Fund buy this remarkable 16th century composite atlas for £140,000, but in 1989, when they returned it to Sotheby's for sale, he secured it for £225,000.

On October 18, again at Sotheby's, Lord Wardington's investment brought a £1.3m bid from London dealer Bernard Shapero, a major player at the £5.5m auction of Pt.I of the Wardington library.

Some of the rarer and more important printed maps by the so-called Lafreri School of Italian mapmakers, who flourished in the 1540s-70s, are found in the Doria Atlas - named for its first owner, Admiral Doria - along with an important suite of Italian broadsheet maps of the 1620s and a number of manuscript maps reflecting the commercial and military interests of the influential Doria family of Genoa. Paolo Forlani's 1566 map of ...nova Franza, seen above, is one of the earlier separately printed "modern" maps of North America and the earliest dated map to show the separation of the continents of Asia and America.

A full report on the sale will appear in Antiquarian Books next week.