$600K treasure map find in attic
A "PRICELESS" rare map of Australia that was understood to be lost forever has been discovered in an attic and returned to its permanent home.
Unearthed in 2010 in storage in Sweden where it spent most of its life, the 350-year-old map, Archipelagus Orientalis (Eastern Archipelago), was created by renowned cartographer, Joan Blaeu, in 1659.
An Antiquarian bookseller is believed to have owned a pile of maps and books and after going out of business in the 1950s the treasure was buried away. When the map was discovered again in 2010, the owners weren't aware of the map's rarity. They only realised when it went for sale at auction.
"I think someone stumbled onto treasure," Dr Martin Woods, Curator of Maps at the National Library of Australia, told news.com.au.
The identity of the lucky seller has not been made clear.
After a number of years in restoration, the map is on display in the Library's Treasures Gallery until mid next year.
It is believed to be only one of two known surviving copies. The National Library of Australia acquired it in 2013 for a whopping approximate price of $600,000.
At the time of its creation, the map was the most current reflection of Australia - Captain Cook had yet to sail its seas. The map would have been used as a decorative piece and were often given as diplomatic gifts.
It is the first to put Tasmania on the map, quite literally, following the findings of Abel Janszoon Tasman during his explorations in 1642-1643 and 1644. It also includes the first reporting of New Zealand.
The template was changed when Cook discovered the east coast of Australia in 1770.
The map is the same map as a rare 17th-Century wall map of Australia that survived for more than 350 years in a private home in Italy. The map is believed to have remained since the late 19th-Century. It sold for more than AU$425,000 earlier this year.
"The map is possibly one of two known surviving copies in this state. Its rarity and academic significance adds to the value," Sotheby's spokesperson for Books and Manuscripts, Cecilie Gasseholm, told news.com.au.
Abel Tasman spotted the west coast of Tasmania on November 24, 1642, naming his discovery Van Diemen's Land, after Antonio van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.
He set foot on its shores in Blackman Bay, approximately 50 kilometres east of metropolitan Hobart, and proceeded to plant the Dutch flag in his newly discovered land.
He returned on a second voyage in 1644, mapping the north coast of Australia and "making observations". Tasman gave Australia the name New Holland, which remained popular until the mid-1850s. Just a few years later, Tasman's discoveries would be added to the map.
"This means that the discoveries by Tasman were recorded in this magnificent map less than 20 years later," Sotheby's spokesperson for Books and Manuscripts, Cecilie Gasseholm, told news.com.au.
Despite basically discovering an entire new country, the Dutch were disappointed by Tasman's explorations; to them he returned empty-handed, he hadn't found a useful shipping route and didn't fully explore this new land.
After this, for more than 100 years, until James Cook's explorations in 1770 and the subsequent landing of the First Fleet in 1788, Australia was largely untouched by Europeans.
According to Sotheby's, who are auctioning the maps, Joan Blaeu was the leading atlas and map publisher of his generation in Amsterdam at the time.
Blaeu had privileged access to the company's charts and archives, and so had access to the most up to date information.
Mr Fattorini said the map is significant because it shows how close the Dutch came to mapping and colonising the entire continent.
Cook is credited with the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia but it was in fact the Dutch who had done the hard yards.
The map was located in a private residence in central Italy, minimising the movements of the map which may have played a part in its survival.
Wall-maps often have a poor survival rate, Mr Fattorini said, as they were often readily.
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