Rare old British atlas sells for $1.3 million

LONDON Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:34am EDT

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A copy of the first printed atlas of England and Wales, along with five more old maps of Sir Francis Drake's voyage to the West Indies and America, fetched 670,000 pounds ($1.3 million) at auction on Thursday.

Christopher Saxton's "Atlas of England and Wales," printed between 1579 and 1590, was one of the first national atlases of any country, and was based on original survey work by the man known as the father of English cartography.

So accurate was his resulting map that it went on to be reprinted for centuries afterwards.

It is bound together with five other rare maps by Italian draughtsman Giovanni Battista Boazio that traced Drake's famous voyage from 1585 to 1586 and gave Elizabethan England its first glimpse of America.

"Together the Saxton and Boazio maps provide a remarkable record of the emerging national identity of Tudor England and her ambition to take her place on the world stage," auctioneer Sotheby's said in a press release about the maps.

The Boazio maps are particularly important because they include the earliest printed plan of any city within what is now the United States, in this case St. Augustine in Florida.

Sotheby's gave no details about the identity of the buyer. The pre-sale estimate was between 500,000 and 700,000 pounds. The final price of 670,000 pounds included the buyer's premium.

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