This Iceland map has long been one of the more popular of those found in the great Ortelius Theatrum. This example comes from a 1603 Latin edition of the atlas sold at Sotheby’s for £155,000, but the map almost always makes a good price when offered on its own. In an Arader Galleries (22% buyer’s premium) sale of October 28 an example in period colour from an earlier, 1592 Latin edition made $12,500 (£9500).

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In this instance it comes from a 1603, Latin text edition of the atlas, issued in Antwerp by JB Vrients, that made a far higher than suggested £155,000 at Sotheby’s (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) on November 2.

Part of a European library to which I will return in a future issue, this example was fully coloured in a contemporary, armorially crested red morocco gilt binding. It lacked two of the full complement of over 150 double-page maps (both from the Parergon section) but the price was a record one for this edition.

One month earlier, in an October 6-7 sale held by Marc van de Wiele (25% buyer’s premium) in Bruges, another coloured copy of this same Antwerp issue by Vrients, who had bought the copper plates following Ortelius’ death in 1598, had sold at €106,000 (£94,340).

Only one other example of this famous atlas has made more than the sum achieved in the Sotheby’s sale. At Christie’s in 2000 a 1601 Plantin edition, bound as a gift from Cosimo de’Medici and later in the Holland House and William Foyle libraries, sold for £250,000.