AUCTIONEERS were left dumbfounded when a collection of maps went under the hammer for £500,000.

The collection of antique maps, which comprised of 90 lots, was sold at a Reeman Dansie auction in Colchester yesterday.

The maps are Far Eastern and specifically cover the Philippines, spanning 500 years of cartography- or map drawing.

The collection drew interest from around the world with more than 800 online bidders competing against a full salesroom of bidders.

The last lot to be sold was the 1734 Murillo Velarde map of the Philippines. It had been estimated to sell for up to £25,000.

The map, which is engraved with the Royal Bourbon coat of arms, is regarded to be holy grail for collectors of Philippine maps and one of only 15 known examples.

After fierce bidding it was sold to a collector for £260,000, representing a new house record for the auctioneers.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Auctioneer James GrinterAuctioneer James Grinter

It was the highest price achieved in their 138 year history.

The auctioneers anticipate a similar level of interest when the second part of the map collection is sold in their November 19 to 20 Fine Art sale.

The maps were from a collector in Essex and it is one of the best collections of its time.

This particular map has been instrumental in the Philippines’ efforts to assert territorial rights in the South China sea.

Daniel Wright, who catalogued the collection, said the map had received a lot of interest.

He said: “We were anticipating a big price for this map as a similar one sold for about £140,000 at another auction.

“We had so much pre-sale interest, this map is for collectors and it is a must have item in that area.

“Most examples of these maps are kept in institutions like the British Library.”

It took several minutes for the item to sell but a lucky phone bidder from the Far East put down the winning bid.

Mr Wright said: “We had about seven phone lines booked, we had bids left with us and we had bids online.

“The auctioneer had to juggle with all of those things.”

To find out more about future lots visit www.reemandansie.com.