A map of St. Augustine, Florida, believed to be the earliest printed plan of a U.S. city, was sold at auction Thursday for $1.29 million (EUR 980,000) in a transaction that also included four other charts dating to the 16th century.
The maps included in the bound "Atlas of England and Wales" were sold to an anonymous bidder on the telephone during a Sotheby's auction in London. Sotheby's officials had predicted the sale could bring between $990,000 (EUR748,525) and $1.38 million (EUR1.04 million).
The St. Augustine map shows Sir Francis Drake's raid there in 1586 and was drawn by Italian draftsman and cartographer Giovanni Battista Boazio, who was aboard one of the Englishman's ships.
A privateer and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, Drake was the first Englishman to sail around the world. She knighted him after his successful voyage and dined with him aboard the Golden Hind in the Thames River.
The St. Augustine map clearly shows the English fleet at anchor in the Atlantic Ocean and others in the inlet into the bay; a lighthouse on Anastasia Island; cannon fire from the island and a large fort across the river. It also depicts infantry troops attacking the Spanish settlement.
The fort was one of a series of wooden strongholds that guarded St. Augustine before construction of the coquina Castillo de San Marcos, which was built in the late 17th century and is still standing.
The maps were bound together in a copy of the first printed "Atlas of England and Wales" by Christopher Saxon, the father of English cartography.
The maps come from the library of the Earls of Macclesfield and were the last known to exist in private hands.
The maps also contain the first printed appearance of any American natural history subjects. Among the drawings are a lizard and crocodile. They are based on drawings of John White, the official artist and governor of the first English colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, reports AP.
Printed between 1579 and 1590, the hand-colored volume has remained almost untouched for more than two centuries. Adding to the rarity of the atlas is the fact that it includes an engraved portrait of Elizabeth.