First Printed Atlas Sets a Record Sale

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

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LONDON — The first atlas ever printed sold for a record $3.9 million at auction on Tuesday.

The sale at Sotheby's of the 1477 edition of Claudius Ptolemy's landmark atlas established a new record for any atlas ever sold at auction.

The atlas was part of a collection sold by the family of Lord Wardington, a prolific British map and atlas collector who died last year. It is one of only two copies still in private hands.

The price paid by a private collector, who was not present at the auction, eclipsed the previous record of $2.7 million, paid for the"Doria Atlas"sold at Sotheby's in October 2005.

Ptolemy was a Greek-speaking geographer, astronomer and astrologer who lived in Roman Egypt. He authored several scientific treatises that were influential on both Islamic and European science, and devised maps and atlases of the Roman Empire.

"The price for the 1477 Ptolemy atlas was extraordinary _ a fitting testimony to the rarity and importance of the work _ but the excitement it generated was echoed throughout the sale,"said Catherine Slowther, Head of Maps and Atlases at Sotheby's.

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