The History of Antique Maps

When the world began, it looked nothing like it does today. The continents shifted, icebergs have been formed and have melted, mountains have changed their shape, but ever since the dawn of man, we have traced our world with maps. For centuries, maps have led explorers on wondrous journeys, assisted armies in war times, and helped lost souls find their way. Because our world is ever changing, antique maps are a beautiful and valuable way to preserve our history. Just like almost every other kind of antique, maps are usually valued on two basic things: the age of the map, and its condition. Some older maps have been partially restored to preserve their colors and so words and lines can be seen easily. 

This process is very difficult to do, and it is painstaking, so this often bumps up the price of the map. Some people prefer to buy antique maps in their original form, no matter how tattered they are. This unique aging gives the map a real appeal to many, and looks more authentic. Most antique maps range anywhere from $50 to $5,000 and sometimes more, depending on how rare the map is, who drew it, and what its origins are.

Why Such Demand for Collectible Maps...

The reason people love antique maps can vary greatly. Some are just particularly fond of maps that represent where they live. Many collectors love to gather up different variations of their home state s maps. Still others enjoy them because they like travel, and are fascinated with how territories were laid out in the past. Some just like them for their beauty and aesthetic appeal. It s a matter of taste and choice, but everyone who enjoys antique maps knows they are getting a real piece of history to hang on their wall. It s very important for a real collector to know the difference between an original antique map and a reproduction. 

While you might think it would be very easy to tell, some companies try to sell newer maps off as antique, and they might look as such, but in reality they are not. Perhaps the best way to distinguish these maps is to hire the help of a professional appraiser. Many appraisers specialize in maps, so you may want to check around when getting something appraised so you can be sure it s the real thing. Antique maps can be world maps, US State maps, European maps, various continent maps, or other sections of the world. Some can come from the last century, while others may be as old as the 1500s or even earlier. Many ancient world maps are held in museums since they are so rare, but these can stem back to 500 BC!

Demand for Antique Maps Comes from Non-Collectors Too...

Antique maps are not just meant for the collector. Many colleges, libraries, museums, and other institutions are also in pursuit of newly discovered antique maps. Some resellers specialize in only certain regions of the world, while others are open to selling maps from everywhere. You may want to check locally first for dealers and sellers since you will be able to observe these maps up close and personal first. There are many online sellers as well. Maps are a fascinating way to track the way our world has changed, the way peoples perception has changed, and how the earth was navigated. Antique maps make a beautiful gift for fans of cartography and are a wonderful way to preserve history and observe how the earth as we know it has evolved over the years. 

Is the Map Actualy a REAL Antique?

#1) Look at the map with a strong magnifying glass -- if you see tiny "dots" it is probably NOT an antique map. Photography and printing uses a dot-matrix process and is a sign that the map is NOR antique.

 #2 It better have "fold marks". Really old maps were first published in Atlases and were folded. Most 20th century maps are flat or rolled.

#3) Prior to the 19th century, maps were "imprinted" using a copper plate. This leaves a tiny ridge in on the paper around the map outline. Modern maps do not have this.