Mapping Out College Plan
Graham Arader, the owner of the gallery, will be donating 25% of the proceeds to support programs at eight universities that offer courses teaching students about world history and science through the study of early modern maps, art prints and books—pieces just like those on the auction block. (Alternatively, he'll donate 10% of the price of a piece to the buyer's charity of choice.) "I asked myself: How do we get kids infected with the same passion that I've got?" Mr. Arader, who is 62, said. "I want a 19-year-old kid to say 'wow' when he sees this stuff."
For more than 20 years, Mr. Arader has been working to get historic maps and artwork of the natural world in classrooms for students to study.
At Northeastern University, for instance, students can take a course called "Picturing the World (or How We Came to Understand What Nature Is)," which "offers a multidisciplinary introduction to how we represent the world and the natural environment through hands-on study of early modern maps, art prints, and books," according to an online course description. Similar courses are available at the universities of Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina, as well as Marymount College in California and Switzerland's Franklin College. Prescott College in Arizona was recently added, with the donation of a collection in honor of Mr. Arader's daughter, Josephine Michell Arader, who is an alumna.
Mr. Arader traces both his love of maps to his father, who was a Navy navigator. When the younger Mr. Arader was studying in England many years ago, his father would send him to London to buy maps from Ronald Vere Tooley, a revered collector. Mr. Arader said his father, along with others, inspired him to give back.
Mr. Arader hopes to have 200 schools involved in creating what he called a "new syllabus for American universities." He also wants to one day endow a professorship (or several) at a university, to continue to help students see the beauty of the natural world through documents often only found in libraries and books.
"The auction is a way of taxing myself to support institutions that make it possible to do what I do," Mr. Arader said. "If it weren't for museums and libraries, I might as well be selling barbed wire."