Of the Greatest Interest Because of its Priority, Binding, and Provenance


(Paris: H. Jaillot [but Amsterdam: Pieter Mortier], 1692-96). 655 x 520 mm. (25 3/4 x 20 1/2"). Two volumes.

VERY IMPRESSIVE CONTEMPORARY DUTCH MOTTLED CALF, GILT, BY THE DOUBLE DRAWER HANDLE BINDERY, covers with two floral roll frames (Storm van Leeuwen III, 704), oblique armillary spheres at corners, large centerpiece of Atlas holding up the world within a leafy frame (Storm van Leeuwen III, 662), raised bands, spines gilt in compartments with armillary sphere (Storm van Leeuwen III, 810) at center, scrolling cornerpieces (neat repair to upper joint of volume I and possibly other small restorations to leather and gilt). Engraved architectural titles, contents leaf in each volume within elaborate border (printed table pasted in center), 111 DOUBLE-PAGE HAND-COLORED ENGRAVED MAPS (including plans of Paris and Vienna), dated between 1691 and 1696, three full-page fortification plans, 19 tables, 84 gazetteers (dated 1692), 28 full-page mapsheets showing 196 views and plans. Title to Sanson’s "Introduction à la Géographie" printed in red and black. Front pastedown with engraved 1736 bookplate of James Gibbs, architect, with his tondo portrait; rear pastedown with the bookplate of Lord Wardington. Pastoureau 1E and 1F. For the binding: Storm van Leeuwen, "Dutch Decorated Bookbinding" I, 245. A little rubbing to joints and extremities, leather a bit pitted and crackled (as always with acid-treated calf), gilt slightly eroded in spots, but the bindings completely solid, quite stately, and very appealing. Maps and charts in one volume often with offsetting (noticeable without being fatal, the other volume only modestly affected), additional insignificant problems, but A GRAND SET, even with its defects--clean and fresh internally, with bright, expert coloring.

From the distinguished collection of the Wardington family, this is a particularly well-colored copy of one of the largest world atlases of the century. Our particular copy features beautifully impressed hand-colored maps that in many cases appear to have their titles in proof state or even manuscript, apparently indicating that this was one of the earliest copies of this work produced by Amsterdam publisher Pieter [Pierre] Mortier. There are often faint lines visible which have been used to make the letters even, suggesting the type was just being set, or the cartouche lettering was being drawn up by a calligrapher. In 1690, Mortier obtained from French publishers the privilege to distribute their maps and atlases in Holland. He began re-engraving maps by the French Royal Geographer Alexis Hubert Jaillot (ca. 1632-1712), the partner and successor of the "Father of French cartography," Nicolas Sanson (1600-67). Beginning in 1669, Jaillot had re-engraved and re-published Sanson's maps, issuing them individually and in atlases. As the world atlas passed down from Sanson to Jaillot to Mortier, it became more striking and more renowned, partly because of its augmented size, its more creative embellishments, and its higher quality paper. The contemporary binding here is by the Double Drawer Handle Bindery, a workshop Mortier commissioned to produce bindings for some of his most important works, including his Great Bible. Jan Storm van Leeuwen suggests that Mortier may have had the "Atlas holding up the world" block tool "made especially for this project"; he records at least two other copies of the work in marbled calf bindings with this design. Given the early state of the engravings, manuscript lettering on some cartouches, lovely hand coloring, and special binding, it is possible that this copy was a prototype or exemplar used by the publisher. Our volumes eventually found their way into the outstanding Wardington library. This collection was begun by the British banker John William Beaumont Pease, 1st Baron Wardington (1869-1950), who acquired in particular Medieval manuscripts and incunabula; it was continued by his son Christopher Henry ("Bic") Beaumont Pease, 2nd Lord Wardington (1924-2005). As noted in the latter's obituary in "The Book Collector," he amassed "the most extensive and valuable collection devoted to cartography . . . assembled by an individual book collector." Sotheby’s disposed of the collections in four auctions held in 2005-06 that brought in £17,309,862 ($31,698,481). This was a record for any related group of book sales in London.

Price: $150,000.00