1655 Ortelius "Theatro Del Mondo" Atlas

Value (2009) | $4,000 Retail$6,000 Retail

We have an old little book that was found at a farmstead auction here in Wisconsin.

Now, when you bought it at the farm sale, what made you buy this particular book?

Well, it was in a small box of a lot of old-looking papers. There was a deed that had an old date on it and it was just a little book and it was interesting because it had those little worm infestation marks, and it survived that. A lot of books, the pages are missing or gone or stained. This one didn't seem to be that way. APPRASIER: Well, when you bought that box of papers and so on, what did you pay?


First of all, this is the original vellum binding. This is in really good condition, but let's get to what it is. It's by a man named Ortelius. He lived in the 1500s. In around the 1570s, he was the first one to actually put out what we would recognize as an atlas. He was appointed by the king of Spain; he went all through Europe. But, he was the first atlas maker. Now, in the book it has what's called a half-title. Many times this page is missing. Yeah, you do have a few worm holes, but those are really minor and insignificant. The next thing I know that you had pointed out to me was what the date was. It's right here-- 1655. Now that does tell something about the book because Ortelius died in the late 1500s. So 1655 is a later edition. The first edition was 1570s, but then they kept adding more maps. And some of the editions are huge. I mean, we'd have trouble fitting them on this table. But this one's sort of like the paperback edition. It was the small edition, the cheaper edition. And then, the last thing we have on the book is the index, and many times that's missing. The condition looks wonderful. The ink stock... there's a little bit of browning. Now, there's only been two or three records of sale of this particular edition in the last 20 years. The most recent record was about 15 years ago. It was missing that half-title page that I showed you at the front; it was missing the index; it had some tears in it, and that sold at a little over $2,000. I think this one would sell in the $4,000 to $6,000 range in a retail store. It's a great book. And then you could put it in your pocket and you can travel through Europe and you'll know exactly where you're going. (laughs)

And right now I just should be concerned with getting the little book back home. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Brattle Book Shop
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2009)
$4,000 Retail$6,000 Retail
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.