The British Isles and Ireland, one of the 26 maps from the 1477 Ptolemy Cosmographia sold at Sotheby’s on October 10 for a record-breaking £1.9m (plus buyer’s premium).

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When the second part of this incomparable private collection was offered on October 10, Shapero was again a dominant bidder and raised that record to £1.9m in securing for a customer Lord Wardington's superb copy of the 1477 Bologna edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia.

Containing 26 double-page engraved maps by Tadeo Crivelli, this was the world's first printed atlas. This example, complete in a handsome contemporary Nuremburg binding of blind-stamped calf over wooden boards, is one of only 31 recorded copies of this landmark publication. Critically, it is also one of only two copies still in private hands.

It was first owned by Hieronymous Münzer, who may have acquired it whilst studying medicine in Italy in the 1470s, and by Willibald Pirckheimer, who translated the text of the 1525 Strassburg Latin edition of the Cosmographia, and both have annotated the atlas. In 1928 it was sold by Sotheby's for £3400 but was acquired by Lord Wardington from New York's H.P. Kraus in 1972, at $180,000.