In 1849, Hovhannes Amira Dadian (1798-1869) from the Armenian Mekhitarist monastery located on the Venetian island of San Lazzaro created this fine atlas, the first atlas in the Armenian language. The atlas features ten hand-colored double-page maps, one of them depicting the solar system.
On June 7, 2017, this Armenian atlas was sold for $37,500, exceeding the expected bid, at the Swann Galleries biannual auction of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books.
According to the lot, the atlas consists of maps of the solar system, the world depicted in double hemispheres, each of the continents, as well as individual maps of Ancient Armenia and the Ottoman Empire. All maps have been engraved in Paris. They are mainly based on coeval French models.
Hovhannes Amira Dadian was a member of an entrepreneurial family of the privileged Armenian Ottoman social class. Dadian’s activity is characterized by his thirst for knowledge. As a subject of the Sultan, he traveled for several years throughout Europe in search for ideas and innovation in his efforts to improve the existing centers of modern industrialization and establish new ones in Turkey. Given his desire to obtain fresh western ideas of technology and education for his own country, it is unsurprising that he has been the patron of this beautiful example of the 19th-century geography.
Previously, the atlas has been featured at an auction only once in 1975.
Rouben Galichian, Historic Maps of Armenia (2004), page 202-204; “The Dadians and Early Ottoman Industrialization”, Haigazian Armenological Review, volume 8, 1980, pages 199-207.