Most expensive map
Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque lustrationes, Waldseemüller
10,000,000 US dollar(s)
Germany ()

The most expensive map is Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque lustrationes ("The Universal Cosmography according to the Tradition of Ptolemy and the Discoveries of Amerigo Vespucci and others"), a printed wall map of the world created by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller in 1507. On 23 July 2001, the United States Library of Congress purchased the only surviving copy of this map, which is the first to use the name "America" to describe the New World, for $10,000,000 (£7,005,500).

The map is made up of 12 printed sheets, each measuring 59 x 41.9 cm (23.25 x 16.5 in), which, when assembled, form a wall map that measures 2.43 x 1.37 m (8 ft x 4 ft 6 in). This also means that it is the earliest known multi-sheet printed map. It uses a modified version of the Ptolemaic Map projection (credited to the Greek cartographer Ptolemy), which distorts the landmasses at the extreme western and eastern ends of the map. Curiously, while the main map shows North and South America as two distinct landmasses separated by a narrow strait, there is a small inset map in the upper margin that shows them as being joined by an isthmus.

A total of 1,000 copies of this map were printed, along with an unknown number of globe gores (printed segments designed to be pasted on to a globe), but the rapid pace of exploration during the 16th century meant that the map was obsolete within a few years of its printing. The map was widely known and highly influential (copies were recorded in the collections of universities and great libraries all over Europe), but by the end of the century it appeared to have vanished without trace.

There was one survivor, however. The German polymath Johannes Schöner bought a copy sometime between 1515 and 1517, and had the printed sheets bound into a book for his personal reference library. Some time after his death in 1545, the map was sold (likely as a job lot with many other volumes), and all records of it were lost.

In 1901, however, a researcher found the map – perfectly preserved by having been carefully bound up for so long – in the library of Schloss Wolfegg, a castle in southern Germany belonging to the Princes of Waldburg. Various US-based institutions have tried to acquire the map in the years since its rediscovery, but it was not until 2001 that the current Prince, Johannes von Waldburg-Wolfegg-Waldsee, agreed to sell.