Worlds First Modern Atlas From 1601 Up For Auction For EUR 80,000

A 420-year-old book widely considered to be the world’s first modern atlas is going up for auction for EUR 80,000 in Germany.

The ‘Theatrum orbis terrarum’ (‘The Theatre of the World’ in Latin) was created by Abraham Ortelius in 1601. The book is widely considered to be the first modern atlas ever created and it is remarkably accurate despite having been created in an era without GPS.

The book is going up for auction at the Ketterer Kunst auction house on Holstenwall Street in the northern German city of Hamburg on 29th November, according to a statement obtained by Newsflash.

Worlds first color navigation Atlas will be offered in the Valuable Books auction at Ketterer Kunst in Hamburg on 29th November 2021, with an estimated price of € 80,000 (GBP 67,000). (Ketterer Kunst/Newsflash)

The auction house said: “A world without Google Maps is hard to imagine today, but that was a reality for centuries. At the time, Abraham Ortelius offered guidance with the first modern atlas, which set the standard for all subsequent atlases.

“On 29th November, the famous map series will be offered in the Valuable Books auction at Ketterer Kunst in Hamburg with an estimated price of EUR 80,000 (GBP 67,000).”

They said that the book “has a very special meaning because it takes a leading position in terms of content and presentation” and that with its “splendid old colouring”, it is “one of only 200 from the last edition that Jan Moretus printed for Ortelius’ heirs at Offizin Plantin”.

The 420-year-old book contains “over 150 maps” including a world atlas, as well as “views of the continents of Europe, Africa, Asia and America as well as maps of the Pacific and the North Sea.”

Despite obvious inaccuracies, such as Australia not even being on the map and the southern tip of South America almost touching Antarctica, as well as North America appearing considerably larger and China much smaller, the ‘Theatre of the World’ is a work of art and a piece of history.

First printed in 1570 in Antwerp, the creation of the atlas is widely considered by academics to have signalled a new age of European adventure and discovery, with its author Ortelius bringing together in his unique book the very latest and most complete maps of the time.

The book went through 34 editions and sold over 7,000 copies, which in those days meant that it was something of a bestseller.

While the edition going up for auction contains over 150 maps, according to the auction house, the first edition only had 53 maps, each with detailed comments.

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