The 90 lots offered on the second day of the September 24-25 sale came from the estate of a local man who had lived and worked in the Philippines. He collected maps of the region in the 1970s and ‘80s.
The cache of fered in Colchester attracted global interest both in the room and online.
The house record came for a 1734 first edition of the Murillo Velarde map of the Philippines, generally regarded as a ‘grail’ object for collectors.
The 3ft 8in x 3ft 11in (1.11 x 1.2m) map, drawn by the Jesuit priest and cartographer Pedro de Murillo Velarde (1696-1753) and engraved by Nicolás de la Cruz Bagay and artist Francisco Suarez, is considered the first scientific map of the Philippines.
Long celebrated for its detail and accuracy, as recently as 2016 the contents of ‘the mother of all Philippine maps’ were used as evidence in thePhilippines’ efforts to assert historical territorial rights in the South China Sea.
Although many later editions followed, there are believed to be only around 15 extant examples of the original Manila printing.
The majority are now in international institutions, and not all survivors retain the 12 flanking vignettes that depict the archipelago’s different ethnic groups and depictions of its cities and islands.
The last copy offered at auction in the UK was an (equally rare) London printing made in the 1760s when, following the British occupation of Manila, Velarde’s original copper plates were seized and taken to England. It fetched £140,000 at Sotheby’s in 2015.
Like other rarities in the collection, this Essex copy, re-mounted on linen, had been purchased at a time when interest in this field was muted. In 1986 it had cost £4500 from dealer Susanna Fisher.
Estimated at up to £30,000, it was sold on the phone to an international bidder for £260,000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium). Reeman Dansie hopes for similar interest when the second part of the collection is sold in November.