Catalog Archive
Auction 192, Lot 383

First Edition of the First Accurate Topographical Map of Iceland

"[On 4 Sheets] Uppdrattr Islands...",

Subject: Iceland

Period: 1844 (dated)


Color: Hand Color

21.8 x 16.5 inches
55.4 x 41.9 cm
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This is a colorful example of the first edition of the first accurate topographical map of Iceland, dated 1844 but completed in 1848. The map was designed by Olaf Nikolas Olsen, a cartographer and officer of the Danish Army. It is based on the comprehensive 12-year survey conducted by Icelandic mathematician and cartographer Bjorn Gunnlaugsson. Sponsored by the Literary Society of Iceland and the Danish government, Gunnlaugsson spent the summers from 1831 to 1843 surveying the country with just one assistant. In the winters, he would draw the maps. When his survey was complete, the hand-drawn maps were sent to Olsen in Copenhagen, who then completed the map on a scale of 1:480,000. Gunnlaugsson's survey served as the primary source for maps of the island for the next century. The map is incredibly detailed with a legend that identifies borders, roads, cities, commerce areas, lava beds, sandy areas, swamp, bodies of water, meadows and pastures, mountains, glaciers, and much more. A table at top compares the elevations of various mountains, and 5 additional tables around the map provide more information. Text on map is in Icelandic. Engraved by F.C. Holm. On 4 sheets, dissected and backed in contemporary linen, as issued. Size refers to the individual sheets. Housed in black cloth boards.

References: cf. Rumsey #11236.

Condition: B

Dissected and backed in linen with the paper lifting off the linen along the edges of the sheets. Lightly soiled and toned with minor chipping and wear at the fold intersections. The cloth boards are worn and soiled. The first image is a composite image - the map is in 4 separate sheets.

Estimate: $1,500 - $1,800

Sold for: $1,100

Closed on 4/26/2023