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.