Rare 17th-century Australia map up for auction

By AG Staff 5 May 2017
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The map – believed to have remained in a private Italian home since the 19th century – is the first to show Tasmania, and is expected to fetch over $400,000.

INTERNATIONAL AUCTION HOUSE Sotheby’s has listed a rare surviving map of Australia, created by Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu in 1659.

The large wall map – which includes Australia and outlying islands – was found in a private residence in central Italy, where it has been kept since at least the late 19th century. It is the first to show Tasmania, the first to refer to Australia as Nova Hollandia (New Holland) and the first to name Novo Zeelandia (New Zealand).

It is expected to receive up to about £250,000GBP (over $400,000AUD) when it goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s London on 9 May.

According to Sotheby’s, the map “remains Blaeu’s most important depiction of the region,” and is “a landmark in the European cartography of Australia”. The contemporary hand-colour map is backed on original linen, and includes six engraved map sheets and three panels of descriptive text in Latin, Dutch and French.

The map is “possibly the best general map of Dutch sea power executed in the 17th century,” said Sotheby’s. “It contains all Dutch discoveries in Australia and those in Tasmania and New Zealand of Tasman’s first voyage.”

The map is possibly one of two known surviving copies in this state. A 1663 printing was discovered in storage in Sweden before being acquired by the National Library of Australia in 2010. It was sent to the University of Melbourne last year for restoration and analysis.