Rare Robert Walton Continent Maps at Auction

Robert Walton's Map of Europe

A scarce set of maps of  Continents of the World by Robert Walton have been consigned by an American collector for Toovey’s Select Sale of Paintings and Prints on Wednesday 5th December 2012.

Robert Walton was one of only a handful of map publishers active in London in the mid-17th Century. Not much has been written about this map maker, who produced sheet maps of the roads of England and Wales before John Ogilby. The son of a yeoman farmer, Walton was born in 1618 in Welford. After an apprenticeship with John Costard of Lothburg, he established himself as a printer, map seller and publisher near Saint Paul’s, London. Walton died in 1688, having worked in the business until 1686.  For his maps of the then-known Continents of the World, Walton took the best of the contemporary Dutch maps by Pieter van den Keere, Nicolaas Visscher, Johannes Blaeu and others and adapted them to the English market. He re-engraved his European rivals’ images, changed the integral text to English and occasionally reinterpreted the geographic information. The unifying feature of Walton’s maps is his use of the fashionable ‘carte à figure’ style: the central panel contains the map proper, whilst around the edge is a wide panelled border, filled with related vignette portraits and views. These vignettes, with images gathered from many sources, are sometimes informative and always charming.

Robert Walton's Map of America

‘A New, Plaine, and Exact map of America…’ depicts North and South America, contained within a panelled border of titled vignette views of cities, like Havana and Mexico City, portraits of explorers, such as Christopher Columbus and Francis Drake, and portraits of indigenous peoples. The map has other decorative qualities; ships, canoes and water creatures are depicted in the sea and animals fill the undiscovered land, representing some of the native fauna. Walton’s map is unique for its diplomatic interpretation of the Island/Peninsula of California. From the 16th to the 18th Century, California regularly appeared on maps as an island, despite much debate to the contrary. Today, it has become one of the most notable cartographic mistakes in history. In ‘California as an Island’, R.V. Tooley writes, “This is an extremely interesting and uncommon map being an intermediate state in the geographical conception of the West Coast, the only map I know to show this compromise solution in the controversy as to whether California was an island or a peninsula.” The other Continents are similarly interesting; Europe, for example, is the second state with King Charles II replacing Cromwell’s portrait in the panelled border, beside a view of London around the time of the Great Fire in 1666.

Robert Walton's Map of Asia
Robert Walton's Map of Africa

Single examples of Walton’s Continents maps do appear on the market infrequently. There is currently an example of the map of Africa for sale at $9500, described as “probably the rarest map of Africa produced in England”, and in the relatively recent past a copy of the map of the Americas was retailed in New York with an asking price of $24,000, described as “a rare map”. On the American West Coast, a copy of Walton’s Asia was sold for $6000 with the accompanying text: “Extremely rare, this being the first example we have ever seen offered for sale.”  Examples of the map of Europe are listed as having sold at auction just twice in the last 15 years. So, with patience, a collector could expect to come across single maps and, over a number of years or even decades, could perhaps assemble a complete set. In December, Toovey’s are offering the rare opportunity to buy the four in one lot. The last time that we have been able to trace when all four maps were offered for sale at the same time was in 1988, when a set in poor condition was sold through the trade in America. This current set (Lot 85) carries a pre-sale estimate of £12,000-18,000 and will be sold at Toovey’s Spring Gardens auction house on Wednesday morning 5th December 2012. If you require more information or detailed condition reports, please contact us, and don’t hesitate – it may well be more than 24 years before the next set comes onto the market!

Additional images of the maps, click to enlarge:

‘Exploring’ the July 2012 Specialist Book Auction

Lot 3044: Amundsen's 'The South Pole'

Toovey’s July Antiquarian & Collectors’ Book Auction catalogue is now online. The specialist auction includes a fascinating collection of books relating to the Polar regions. The list of authors include Robert Falcon Scott, Douglas Mawson, Fridtjof Nansen, Robert Peary, Roald Amundsen, Edward Evans, Apsley Cherry-Garrard and Ernest Shackleton to name but a few. The collection almost forming a who’s who of Antarctic and Arctic exploration.  The sale commences with two works relating to the Arctic region, Lot 3001 and 3002 are both two volume sets presented in contemporary leather bindings. Lot 3001 is David Crantz’s ‘The History of Greenland’ being the first U.K. edition of 1767 estimated at £400-600, while Lot 3002 is Peter Cormack Sutherland’s ‘Journal of a Voyage in Baffin’s Bay’ published in 1852, estimated at £600-1000.

Many of the works are first editions and provide first-hand accounts of travelling in the North and South. Lot 3027 is a 1922 printing of Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s ‘The Worst Journey in the World, Antarctic 1910-1913’. Taurus [84] described this work as ‘The best written and most enduring account of exploits in the Antarctic’ being the only first-hand account of Robert Falcon Scott’s ‘Terra Nova’ expedition. It is bound in the original blue cloth, a variant to that recorded in Spence [277], but which Rosove states is ‘significantly scarcer than the previous [cloth backed boards edition]‘. The two volumes carry a pre-sale estimate of £700-1000.  Another book relating to Scott is Lot 3026, Raymond E. Priestley’s ‘Antarctic Adventure, Scott’s Northern Party’. This first edition bound in the original decorated cloth is scarce, as ‘Many copies were destroyed during a fire at the publisher’s warehouse‘, see Spence [939]. Lot 3024 is a first U.K. edition of Scott’s ‘The Voyage of the “Discovery”, printed in 1905. This two volume set includes a mounted clipped signature by Scott on the reverse of the frontispiece, reflected in the estimate of £1000-1500. Further presentation copies can be found throughout the collection, Lot 3032 for example is Henrik Johan Bull’s ‘The Cruise of the “Antarctic” to the South Polar Regions’, which carries a presentation inscription from the author’s cousin, Johannes Catharinus Bull, aka ‘John’ to Miss Ivana Bull. John aided his cousin with the completion of the book and is acknowledged in the preface. This first edition is bound in the original decorated cloth and is offered with an estimate of £500-700.

Click on an image for full view and again for further magnification:

The sale also includes an account of  the cornerstone of Antarctic exploration, Roald Amundsen’s ‘The South Pole, an Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the “Fram”, 1910-1912’. Which describes the first expedition to reach the South Pole. Although a second impression of the first English edition, this two volume set was printed a month after the first printing. It is bound in the original red cloth with Norwegian flags to the upper covers and spines. This work is Lot 3044 and is offered with an estimate of £400-600.

These books relating to the Arctic and Antarctic are Lots 3001 to 3071 and are all illustrated on Toovey’s online catalogue. This Polar region collection joins other fascinating books within the auction, including Lot 3085 featured in our previous blog post. The Book Sale will be held on the 10th July 2012, commencing at 1.30pm, for viewing times and further information please visit www.tooveys.com.