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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 13:34 GMT
Rare maps chart England's history
Picture of a map by Christopher Saxton
The volume offered a rare picture to Elizabethan England
A scarce copy of the first printed atlas of England and Wales is going under the hammer at Sotheby's and is expected to fetch more than 500,000.

The work, by the Wakefield surveyor Christopher Saxton, also has a rare set of charts depicting Sir Francis Drake's journey to the West Indies and America.

Printed between 1579 and 1590, it runs to 40 pages of maps and plates - a landmark in Elizabethan cartography.

Auctioneers are expecting a lot of interest in the sale on 15 March.

The charts illustrating Drake's voyage across the Atlantic from 1585 to 1586 were made by Giovanni Battista Boazio.

The whole work is regarded as a prime example of early map making, showing for the first time in print a picture of England and its geography.

I have never handled a set of these charts, nor a finer example of Saxton's atlas
Sotheby's Catherine Slowther

The book is being offered as part of the sale of the library of the Earls of Macclesfield.

Sotheby's Catherine Slowther said: "In my 20 years as a maps and atlases specialist at Sotheby's I have never handled a set of these charts, nor a finer example of Saxton's atlas."

The rarity of the atlas is further enhanced by the inclusion of a fine engraved portrait of Elizabeth I in contemporary hand-colour - thought to be one of the finest of all engraved portraits of the Queen.

The maps of Drake's journey to the West Indies and America - when to went to attack Spanish possessions - offered Elizabethan England its first view of America.

The work also includes a view of St Augustine in Florida, showing the earliest printed plan of any city in the modern United States.

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