500-year-old map of New York could fetch up to $10M

Now this is definitely one of those once in a lifetime sort of moments when a 500-year-old (!!!) map appears on the market, and what’s more it’s the first map ever to depict the New York Harbor. Come Saturday, it will be on sale at the Park Avenue Armory for an equally jaw-dropping number: $10 million, Bloomberg reports.

The map is being sold by Daniel Crouch Rare Books, a specialist dealer of maps, sea charts, and atlases. Crouch acquired it from an English collector just a few months ago. The Englishman in turn had purchased the map from a Swiss family in 1983.

In the strictest sense, this ‘map’ is actually a portolan chart—these are navigational maps that created based on compass directions and distances estimated by sea captains. The incredibly rare find was created by one of the best known Italian map and chart-makers of the early 16th century, Vesconte Maggiolo. Created in 1531, the map shows the journey of Giovanni da Verrazzano, the Italian explorer who was the first European to anchor in New York Harbor.

The map stands three-feet tall and 6.7-feet wide and has been created on vellum made from six goat skins, which makes it practically indestructible, Crouch told Bloomberg. The map remained rolled up for most of its existence, and hence it’s still in pretty great condition. Will the map enable you to venture on some grand world explorations of your own? Probably not since it is largely inaccurate.

While sailing up the eastern coast, Verrazzano misidentified the Pimlico Sound off of the coast of North Carolina, as the Pacific Ocean, and that in turn produced depictions of North America as a thin stretch of land with Asia just beyond it. But that all that can be overlooked when you stop and think, how often do you get to see a 500-year-old map? If the map sells at its full ask, it will also become the most expensive map ever sold publicly—the Waldseemüller Map sold for $10 million privately in 2003.