The 18th century California map is the first to depict the San Francisco Bay


New York – On October 25, Bonhams will present the most important 18th century map of California as the culmination of its exploration and travel literature, featuring the Americana sale in New York. Estimated between $600,000 and $800,000, the original and extraordinarily rare manuscript map of the Californian coast is signed by Miguel de Costansó (1741-1814), Catalan cartographer, cosmographer and engineer of the Portola expedition who created the map, and dated Mexico, October 30, 1770. This is the first map to depict San Francisco Bay and marks the beginning of Spanish settlement in the state. The map exists in three versions: an early manuscript version, not showing San Francisco Bay, this manuscript version, and the printed map of 1771 produced in Spain from this version.

An incredible selection of Americana also highlights the sale, including a subpoena for President Thomas Jefferson, the first to be issued to a sitting president, to produce evidence in the treason case against Aaron Burr, one of the first and most important tests of the concept now known as executive privilege. Burr, Third Vice President of the United States and Founding Father, was arrested and charged with high treason for his part in a wild plot attempting to raise an army to separate the Louisiana Territory and the western states from the American rule in 1807. The subpoena raised a host of issues, including executive privilege, equal rights under the law, executive independence, as well as the idea of preservation of state secrets. It is estimated between $200,000 and $300,000.

Other highlights from the Americana sale:

• Estimated between $50,000 and $70,000, a previously unknown important letter written and signed by Frederick Douglass (1817-1895), an American abolitionist and former slave, in 1847. Douglass, who had fled the United States in 1845 for fear of being taken away by his ex-owner. In this letter, Douglass, returning for the first time to America as a free man, vividly and poignantly describes the mistreatment he suffered on his return voyage aboard the Cambria – a pivotal experience in his life.
• In addition to significance in American history, an incredibly rare copy of the first federal copyright law signed in 1790 by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) as the first United States Secretary of State. United, which laid the foundation for US copyright law, spurring 230 years of innovation and creating the framework for modern intellectual property law in the 21st century, estimated at $100,000-150,000.

The sale will also include materials related to exploration and travel literature, including:

Thesaurus rei herbaria by Johann Wilhelm Weinmann (1683-1741), a German apothecary and botanist known for his influential masterpiece Phytanthoza iconography (1737-1745) which contained over 1,000 hand-colored engravings of several thousand plants. Estimated between $40,000 and $60,000, this manuscript is a rare and valuable record of plants grown in the early 18th century, based on Weinmann’s own collection.
• Three rare photographic albums featuring the work of British photographer JohnClaude White (1853-1918), including the personal diary in photographs of his son-in-law Henry Hyslop during their expedition to the coronation of the King of Bhutan in 1907, estimated at $30,000 – $40,000.


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