George discusses the market for antique celestial prints, and examples from our inventory illustrate the pages of an article from Connecticut Cottages & Gardens magazine. Selections from the article are quoted below.
The celestial charts shown below are for sale -- click on the images to see more images and complete descriptions.
"...[A]ttractive and collectible, the celestial and astronomical charts that were engraved during the Golden Age of Dutch cartography (roughly 1550-1700) imaginatively evoke the debate between Copernicus and followers of Ptolemy... During the Age of Enlightenment, they also had another utilitarian purpose: Well-heeled and educated 'hobbyists' of that era used these maps to identify constellations when looking skyward. In either case, celestials navigate a fine line between science and exquisite representational art, taking collectors on an exploratory journey into the heavens.
" 'Connected to religion, primitive beliefs, superstition and the dawn of science, these charts convey a sense of mystery, motion and excitement,' says cartography expert George Glazer, the owner of an eponymous New York City globe and print gallery.
'It’s easy to understand why liberal arts-educated, 17th-century gentlemen and women, aristocrats and modern collectors relate to these charts, and why people use them for decoration. They're part of a simpler world, when the stars, moon and sun held basic meanings that helped shape our existence.'
"Experiencing this powerful universe is quite affordable. Unlike rare, antique maps, celestials haven't stirred wide popular interest. Still an esoteric field of collecting, many prints are undervalued, according to Glazer, and poised for an upturn. Illustrative of this pricing, a hand-colored double hemisphere map by Johann Baptist Homann (1664-1724) is $3,750 at Glazer’s gallery...."
"On the higher end, works by provocative cartographer Andreas Cellarius are far more expensive. Born in Worms, Germany, and ultimately a shcoolmaster in Holland in the 1750s, he straddled the divide between the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic camp and Copernican thinking: He did both geocentric and heliocentric charts. These robustly colored, $4,000 to $12,000 maps range from depictions of the heavenly spheres to the Sun's movement and whimsical interpretations of the constellations. Instead of picturing such astrological signs as Sagittarius or Capricorn, Cellarius substituted Job, Matthew and other Biblical figures...."