Great Lakes map brings $5,040 at Old World Auctions A re-strike of a map of the Great Lakes, originally made by the Jesuit priest Francesco Bressani in 1657 and recreated around 1900, sold for $5,040 in an online auction held by Old World Auctions.
RARE AND IMPORTANT RE-STRIKE OF A 1657 MAP OF THE GREAT LAKES REGION
CHANGES HANDS FOR $5,040 IN AN ONLINE SALE HELD BY OLD WORLD AUCTIONS
(Sedona, Ariz.) - A rare and extremely important re-strike of a map of the Great Lakes, originally created by the Jesuit priest Francesco Bressani in 1657 and recreated around 1900, sold for $5,040 in an online sale (#123) held by Old World Auctions. Only two examples of the original map exist today. The original map was printed on two sheets and covered the St. Lawrence River in addition to the Great Lakes; the 1900 copy represents just the left (or western) sheet.
“This wasn't the top lot of the sale, but it was by far the most interesting,” said Diane Kelly, Map Specialist for Old World Auctions. “First, there is the story of Bressani, who served in Quebec in the 1640s, was captured and tortured by the Iroquois, then survived and returned to Italy, where he created the map. Then there is the mysterious lady in Italy who found the copper plate behind a painting and re-struck the map in 1900 using 19th century paper.”
That plate – for the western sheet – has again been lost to time, further adding to the map's fascination and allure. In 1653, Bressani published an account of his missionary work that was to have included a map. But it was four years later when the map finally was published – loose and unprotected, not bound in a book. Its very existence was unknown until an example was found in the D'Anville collection in Paris. Only one other complete example is known.
Bressani, who lost three fingers on his right hand during his captivity and torture, compiled the map drawing on Jesuit sources and the probable influence of another mapmaker of the time, Nicolas Sanson. It is a highly accurate map of the eastern Great Lakes and Ottowa River regions. In it, Georgian Bay is described in great detail. Lake Erie is placed at a higher latitude than on the map of the same region created by Sanson. Father Bressani embellished his work with several drawings (remarkable considering his missing fingers); these included depictions of the Indians, one showing a converted family praying.
Many of the maps in this auction had been previewed for potential buyers at the 15th annual Miami Map Fair in Miami, Fla., known as “the Super Bowl of mapdom.” The event was held February 2-3 at the History Museum of Southern Florida. Old World Auctions has exhibited at the Miami Map Fair since 2001.
“There's no doubt being at the Fair was a great help in generating interest in Auction #123,” Ms. Kelly said. “We were online a week longer than usual for the event (which ended February 20). We saw a lot of clients. As for the sale itself, there was a sharp increase in international bidding, up by about 25% from the previous sale.