Frederick DeWitt Atlas, ca. 1680
Appraised Value: $30,000 - $50,000
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (2:42)
Books & Manuscripts
Senior Vice President & International Department Head of Printed Books and Manuscripts
GUEST: It was an estate auction run by a local auctioneer and at the time, that's almost 25 years ago, he operated out of a rehabbed chicken house.
APPRAISER: Chicken house?
GUEST: Well, the Eastern Shore is famous for chickens. And they, they're great buildings. He has since moved into a very elegant establishment.
APPRAISER: From chicken house to the ROADSHOW.
APPRAISER: What struck me was this incredible binding. It's late 17th century Dutch vellum. This is a very impressive book. Here is an inscription. The inscription, it's in French.
APPRAISER: But, in effect, it says it's presented by the City of Grenoble to this cartographer, who came to America in the late 1890s. It says 1898.
GUEST: Yes. The auctioneer announced it as Atlas 1898. And we all were bidding on it on the assumption that it was that date.
GUEST: So the auctioneer took that to mean that this book was actually published in 1898.
APPRAISER: Strange things happen in the auction world, we know, but when I turned into this book, I was really taken back. I mean, this is very beautifully, contemporary hand-colored atlas put together by Frederick DeWitt sometime in the late 17th century-- 1685, 1680, possibly. And it's an atlas of incredible beauty and the condition is fabulous. You start off with the world map, and then we move in to the continents. There's America. And here is one striking one with some lovely vignettes. Did you have any idea what this is worth?
GUEST: Well, I bought it thinking it was just something I could market the plates for ten dollars apiece--
APPRAISER: Well, don't do that, please.
GUEST: --at a flea market.
APPRAISER: This atlas, in this kind of condition... would have, today, we had a very similar atlas, not as nice as this, sell last year for $30,000. And I would estimate this at $30,000 to $50,000. So keep it intact. It's in a lovely binding. And it is just a spectacular item. And thank you for bringing it to the ROADSHOW.
GUEST: Wow. I, uh... we've been debating whether to sell it as an atlas or as the plates.
GUEST: I think you've convinced me maybe we ought to keep it together.
APPRAISER: It's so lovely in its original binding from when it was put together that I would argue to keep it together and enjoy it. And it's been a great pleasure to handle here.
GUEST: Well, you know, I only gave $40 for it, and, uh... I found it...
APPRAISER: Well, from $40 and from a chicken house, you've taken it a long way. And thank you for bringing it to the ROADSHOW.
GUEST: Well, thank you. Thank you very much.
APPRAISER: Thank you.
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