The first atlas printed in the Islamic world has sold for more than four times its estimate at auction, after it was discovered in an attic.

The “exceptionally rare” Ottoman folio atlas by Mahmoud Raif Efendi was sold for £86,250 on Tuesday by Dreweatts, of Newbury, Berkshire.

It was one of only 50 produced and was among several discoveries made at Weston Hall in Northamptonshire, home of the Sitwell family for more than 300 years.

Dreweatts auction house said the Ottoman atlas was the first printed in the Islamic World.

It was found in “extraordinary” condition in one of the nine attics at Weston Hall, stamped and dated 1804, and featured a hand-coloured pictorial title with the monogram of Sultan Selim III, the auction house said.


Written in Ottoman Turkish with 24 hand-coloured terrestrial maps, the atlas included two twin-hemispheres and one world, with a plain celestial chart.

Denise Kelly, book specialist at Dreweatts, said: “This is a wonderful atlas. The condition of the binding, terrestrial maps and celestial chart are extraordinary. A fascinating object to come to the market.”

It it was thought the atlas was brought to Britain by Sitwell family member General Lord Hely-Hutchinson.

On the first day of the Weston Hall and the Sitwells: A Family Legacy two-day auction, the atlas sold for more than four times its pre-sale estimate and was bought by a UK buyer.

Joe Robinson, head of Dreweatts house sales department, said: “We are delighted with the result of this rare Ottoman atlas, which after competitive bidding on the phones and internet achieved over four times its low pre-sale estimate.

“Selling to a UK buyer, it is one of several wonderful discoveries made at Weston Hall.”