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History of Map Collecting

Antique maps are one of the most collected items in the world. This, together with atlases, is therefore valued highly in the market. And yet, experts claim that the prices will continue to rise, if the last two years were any indicator. Maps have been around and in use since time immemorial. The Middle Ages sailors relied on maps to navigate the oceans. But with the advent of modern technology today, collecting actual maps have become extremely rare. For this reason, these historic maps are now valued by as much as ten thousand pounds (in some auctions)!
The modern maps that we know now of started in the 16th century. During this time, the cartographers who made these maps were familiar with the continents and therefore were able to create accurate mapping of the world. During the 17th century, the Blaeu family of Holland became well-known as map makers. This marked the golden age of map making in Europe.
Even though modern maps did not become prevalent until the 16th century, medieval libraries already included maps in their inventories. These maps were used by naval academies and by the court for voyages of discovery. As new maps became available, maps became more sophisticated. This helped to make collecting maps even more in demand.

What is an Antique Map Worth?

As with anything antique, the value of vintage maps is the next consideration. To give you an idea on how much antique maps are worth, you can use the following points as guideline:
·         Scarcity – This is often the first thing that is evaluated when appraising old maps. It is not the quality or features of the map, but rather how many of these kinds of map remain. It does not matter if there were several versions of the same map that were printed – the number of surviving copies is what matters.

·         Watermark/Signature – Collecting old maps is far more complex than it seems. There were many versions and designs that were created over the years. Each version that had been printed out contained unique features and watermarks. These watermarks are not easily visible; you need to hold it up against a strong light in order for you to see it (since they were impressed onto the paper during manufacture). This is a way for the manufacturer to indicate who made the maps.

·         Condition – As with any antique, the condition of the item is always an important consideration. Natural signs of aging (especially for maps manufactured from the 17th to the 18th century) should not be a problem. In fact, some appraisers favor the signs of aging as an indicator of its authenticity. However, the maps should still be in good condition that the information on the map would be possible to decipher. Maps made before 1800s were uneven in thickness. But for those made 1801 and beyond, the papers were machine-made and therefore smoother.
If you want to ensure the value of your antique maps, you need to find an expert appraiser. They will be able to provide an accurate estimation of the value of old maps.

Verifying Antique Maps

When doing any kind of antique collecting, verifying the authenticity of the item should be given priority. There are a lot of fake items out there in the market posing as antique. The difference in terms of market value is significant; hence, it is crucial to make that identification.
The size of the map is one factor to consider. Most of the reproductions are typically smaller or larger than the original. If you know the actual size of the original map, you should be able to make a comparison as to what is authentic and what is reproduction. The folds and plate marks are also good indicators of authenticity. Antique maps were produced using a copper plate that is obvious and physically present, no matter how old the map is. In the case of reproduction, they are seen as flat photographic images instead. Other things that you need to look for when verifying antique maps are legends, the type of paper, and the aging process.

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