Frederick De Wit Atlas, ca. 1680

Value (2013) | $50,000 Auction$70,000 Auction

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.

Chicken house?

Yeah, well, the eastern shore is famous for chickens. And they're great buildings. He has since moved into a very elegant establishment.

Well, from chicken house to the Roadshow, what struck me was this incredible binding. It's late 17th century Dutch vellum. And this is a very impressive book. Here's an inscription...

It's in French, 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. The auctioneer announced it as Atlas, 1898, and we all were bidding on it on the assumption that it was that date.

Right, so because of the 1898 inscription in the front of the book, the auctioneer took that to mean that this book was actually published in 1898. Strange things happen in the auction world, we know, but when I turned into this book, I was really taken aback. I mean, this is very beautifully contemporary hand-colored atlas, put together by Frederick De Wit sometime in the late 17th century-- 1685, 1680 possibly. And it's an atlas of incredible beauty and the condition is fabulous. We start off with the world map and then we move into the continents. There's America. And here is one striking one with some lovely vignettes.

Well, I bought it thinking it was just something I could market the plates for $10 apiece...

Well, don't do that, please.

At a flea market. I only gave $40 for it.

Well, from $40 and from a chicken house, you've taken it a long way. This atlas in this kind of condition, I would estimate at $30,000 to $50,000.

Wow. Thank you.

Appraisal Details

New York
New York, NY
Update (2013)
$50,000 Auction$70,000 Auction
Appraised value (1999)
$30,000 Auction$50,000 Auction
Baltimore, MD (June 19, 1999)

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