Posted: 19 February 2020
Category: Company News
Buying, Selling and Collecting Antique Maps
Cartography by definition is the art of geographically plotting an area on a flat surface like a map or chart. The very earliest maps date back to Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD but with the discovery of new countries by European explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries there was a necessity for a more accurate mapping of the New World.
Output expanded even further in the 17th and 18th centuries with a vast production of maps and atlases. They were detailed, accurate and in many instances attractively embellished with coats of arms, scrollwork and banners.
Not only are they beautiful but they are fascinating historical snapshots in time of a specific area, country, continent or indeed the whole world. As an area for collecting they offer boundless opportunities and in many instances at a reasonable price.
Below is a selection of the most popular areas that might form the focus for a collection.
- By date. It follows that the fine woodblock and engraved copper plate maps of the 15th and 16th centuries can command four and even five figure sums but good quality maps from the 18th and 19th centuries can be acquired for as little as £100 upwards.
- By area. Many collectors start their collection with a map of where they live or where they were born. By focusing on one area it can be fascinating to see the social development over the years. An example of this would be the depiction on a 17th century map of Sussex of the tiny fishing village of Brighthelmstone, which of course today is better known as the bustling City of Brighton, with a population now approaching 250,000.
- By theme. This could be the theme of transport where a collection would focus on maps depicting railway lines, canals or roads.
- Geographical significance. Early maps feature different names of areas or countries. Some show historic national boundaries, or even uncharted or undiscovered countries. For example Australia for many years remained uncharted and was referred to on 18th century maps as New Holland.
- Appearance. Maps are often beautifully embellished with mythical creatures and animals or bordered by coats of arms or vignettes of famous buildings for that location.
- By mapmaker. Some collectors focus their collection on a particular cartographer, whereas others might try and collect an example by each of the most famous map makers through the centuries.
Whatever the reason one chooses to form the basis for a collection it will prove a most rewarding and fascinating hobby for a relatively modest outlay. Always try and buy a map in good condition as this will be a significant factor if you ever decide to sell. Another consideration is whether a map has contemporary colouring or was later coloured, something that initially will be quite hard to spot but with experience will be obvious.< BACK TO POSTS