Rare map of Canada under scrutiny after Harvard thefts

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A rare print of a 396-year-old map of Canada created by French explorer Samuel de Champlain - and billed by Sotheby's as "perhaps the most important single map" in Canadian history - is to be auctioned next month in Britain for up to $80,000.

But the newly offered copy of Champlain's richly illustrated rendering of Canada's geography as it was understood in 1612 - just four years after the founding of New France at Quebec City - is drawing special attention from experts at Harvard University, which had its vintage reproduction of the same map stolen several years ago from its antique book library.

The Harvard map was found missing in 2005 during an FBI investigation into a string of thefts from major libraries in the U.S. and Britain that saw about 100 cartographic treasures - worth an estimated $3 million US in total - sliced from centuries-old atlases and exploration journals.

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