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hondius atlas dated 1641 sold in paris by Audap-Mirabaud on Feb 2

This second edition of Nouveau Theatre du Monde with 318 of 321 maps including the world map and contemporary colouring went for £38 000 plus buyer's premium (estimate 8-10000 Euros). 


Submitted 16/02/2018

Maps as literary illustrations

On the subject of thematic maps (see previous blog) should your travels bring you to Cambridge, Massachusetts before April 15, chart a path to Harvard’s Houghton Library where an exhibition called ‘Maps as Literary Illustration’ opened last week. Sixty maps bring to life such imagined places as More’s Utopia and Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood.

One of the highlights is a map of part of Spain by Tomas Lopez. It illustrates Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s ‘El Ingenioso Hildalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha’, published in Madrid, 1780. The route is delineated in red; the numbers along the way are keyed to 35 episodes listed inside an elegant cartouche surmounted by Quixote’s suit of armour.


Rebecca Barry.
Submitted 03/02/2018

Maps as data visualisation

Few map dealer catalogues are thematic. Perhaps the theme of this catalogue is unique – ‘data visualisation’, as its compiler Daniel Crouch puts it. To a certain extent all maps are data visualization. But advances in mapping technologies have given cultural and social data more authority and persuasiveness. One of the greatest exponents of cartographic data visualization was Charles Minard (item 12) whose output ranged from “the best statistical graphic ever drawn” - a map depicting Napoleon’s doomed invasion of Russia; the international cotton trade before, during, and after the America Civil War; and the population density in Paris, produced to ascertain the most efficient placement of a new central post office.

Other items in Crouch’s catalogue include the fight against cholera. This disease was responsible for the greatest loss of life in the nineteenth century. The fight in London was aided by the pioneering work of John Snow (item 14), whose map of the area around the Broad Street water pump in Soho demonstrates better than any table of statistics the link between infected water and death rates.

Then there was William Smith’s geological map of England and Wales of 1815 (item 1) – the first geological map of any country and “the map that changed the world”. The new science became hugely popular over the succeeding decades – with men of industry and the layman alike.

Problems of transportation led Harry Beck (items 30 and 31) to produce his 1933 tube map, one of the most celebrated maps of the twentieth century. To make the map more intelligible, Beck dispenses with “topographical truth”, in order to show connectivity. In doing so he set a world standard for graphic clarity and produced something as “rational as a contemporary Mondrian painting”, proving the American statistician John Tukey’s point that “the greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see”.
This catalogue can be downloaded from

Submitted 30/01/2018

Interesting results from Sotheby's NY

Americana map sale on January 17th.

Just a few high-end results. 1.N. De Fer's map of the American Continent 1713 did well. In AMPG it is listed at £40000. It achieved £67000. This is a much rarer version than the reduced-size Chatelain re-issue of 1719.  2. W. Perris' plan of New York 1850/51 reached £27000 3. J. Robinson's 'A map of Mexico, Louisiana and the Missouri Territory' 1819 went for £250000. Only 10 copies of this map are known to exist. (Prices include buyer's premium.)


Submitted 19/01/2018

A brilliant Antique Map Price Guide review

From another map dealer - many thanks.

I have been selling maps since 1961. In those days there was only a small selection of books to guide the map collector with his hobby. The first book I bought was Maps and Mapmakers by R. V. Tooley. This used to go in and out of print over the years. A book I recommend to my county map customers is British County Maps Reference and Price Guide by Yasha Beresiner published in 1986. The price guide is now historically amusing to look at but the real value of the book is the way it describes most clearly the county maps and mapmakers that the collector should seek out. Since those days back in the 60's there have been so many wonderful books on antique maps. Some sumptuous illustrated ones for the coffee table and others that you use and keep referring to when you want need facts and information. Then more recently there arrived an amazing series of 24 books under the title of Antique Map Price Guide by Jeffrey Sharpe. Unlike that price guide book back in 1968 this amazing series of illustrated books does not stop at British Isles county maps but continues to roam around the world visiting all countries and areas. The prices will help to guide collectors with their purchases but for me the value of these books is the way they show the collector what maps are available of a particular area that he might want to seek out. An excellent source for making a map wish list.

Richard NIcholson.
Submitted 02/12/2017

Recent world map sales

The venue was Sotheby's London, November 14th 

An extremely rare map by Valegio c1570 sold for the high estimate (£150 000 + b/p) shown left and Sylvanus' 1511 map went for £50 000 + b/p. It seems that rarity supports value in difficult times. Other factors, such as beauty, catch up in good times. 


Submitted 20/11/2017

An unfair Antique Map Price Guide review

Recently, 'Meridian' reviewed AMPG no 21 (Greece/Cyprus/Malta) on Amazon. Here it is, together with my response

Meridian writes: I have been interested in maps of Cyprus and have been a keen researcher of these maps for a number of years through books, auctions, and the so many e-shops that have appeared and proliferated in the last 20 or so years. The maps that appear in this book are certainly not a complete list of Cyprus maps and the guide prices in most cases are not the ones you would expect to find, taking into consideration mint/fine condition, sometimes being too low and sometimes too high. At best, this is an approximate price guide, but exercise caution when comparing prices and using this book as a buyers / sellers guide. I do not want to extrapolate for all maps within this book, since I follow Cyprus maps only.

Jeffrey Sharpe writes: Meridian, are you trying to tell us that your list of Cyprus maps is complete? LOL. No historical reference work covering several centuries is able to guarantee that it has listed all the maps of a particular region. For example, Meridian must be aware that Christos Zacharakis, who authored a well-respected 1982 work on Greek maps, wrote in his second, revised edition of 1984: 'The number of maps listed in this edition has increased considerably, with the addition of 365 entries bringing the total to 2538 instead of 2173, while, at the same time, many previous errors have been corrected.' This is not all. In 1998 he published a 15-page 'Addendum and Corrigendum' of more additions and changes.

Recently, I discovered a map of Michigan printed by a local postmaster in 1850. It was worth a lot of money to a collector of maps printed in early Chicago. But no records of it existed even though hundreds of reference works have been published on US maps. Many other dealers and collectors boast that they have a rare map 'that is not in so-and-so's work'. Does that mean the work is useless? Of course not.

As far as prices are concerned, Antique Map Price Guide (AMPG) lists the current values of maps based on such parameters as importance, rarity, beauty etc relative to other maps by the same and other cartographers. What is the basis for Meridian's valuations? No specialized reference works that I know give prices. So you must rely on historical prices in sales catalogues, which cannot predict current values. Or do you rely on dealer websites? But this is not possible; hardly any maps of Cyprus appear on them. In general, not more than 20 per cent of the maps in AMPG are on the internet for sale at any given time.

I have been an antique map dealer for 35 years. My experience has been that the above parameters are the best guarantee of value, long term. If any maps have been missed out, bearing in mind that I have not included maps that only exist in public institutions, and various other categories, which are clearly stated, I should be grateful to know about them.

Submitted 12/11/2017

'Columbus letter' Hot off the press 1494

Christopher Columbus's announcement of the success of his 1493 voyage westward across the Atlantic Ocean quickly became one of the earliest best sellers of European publishing. No less than 11 editions were published in 1493 across Western Europe. Six more editions were published from 1494 to 1497. All of them are rare today; several of the editions survive in only a single copy, including the first edition, published in Basel. In total, 80 copies of all the editions survive, according to the Osher Map Library.

The second, illustrated edition (1494) was sold by Bonham’s NY on 26th September. It fetched £561 000 including b/p. The 'Columbus Letter,' as it is commonly called, describes at first-hand the most momentous of all voyages of discovery. The existence of an American continent was made common knowledge and led to the rise of capitalism by providing a new outlet for European trade. In Europe the centre of political and economic power shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic seaboard.

The second edition is important because of the woodcut illustrations attributed to a Swiss artist. The illustrations of the Columbus letter are: 1) Columbus landing in a small boat, from a galleon in the foreground, on the island of "Insula Hyspana." Groups of natives stand on the shore (shown below) 2) The first map depicting a part of America illustrates Columbus's ships among the West Indian islands of Fernanda, Hyspana, Ysabella, Saluatorie, and Conceptionis Maria (shown below) 3) The building of a fort along the coast, "Insula hyspana" in the background. 4) The crowned arms of Spain. 5) Columbus's galleon, "Oceanica Classis," in full sail. 6) A portrait of Ferdinand II of Aragon.


Bonham's NY.
Submitted 01/10/2017

Poor sale, stunning highlight

A nice selection of maps and atlases did not do well on September 13th at Leslie Hindman's Auctioneers based in Chicago. Many lots were unsold. An exception was this extremely rare bird's eye view of Chicago dated 1857 by James Palmatary (118x204cm.) The high estimate was $30 000. It sold for $170 000 plus buyer's premium.

Maybe the timing of the sale was unfortunate. But I can't help thinking that if more potential collectors were aware of the existence of Antique Map Price Guide, the results could have been better.

Submitted 14/09/2017

The counties of England on playing cards

Although 15 cards were missing from the original 52, Robert Morden's 1676 first issue of these cards was sold for £6500 + b/p by Dominic Winter on July 20th.
Bowles' c1780 re-issue of Dunn's 1772 map of the world also did well at the same auction. Estimated at £2000 to £3000, this wall map with original battens fetched £8200 + b/p. (An example of this map is for sale on this site.)


Submitted 31/07/2017

A high point for 20th century Indian cartography

Sold at Christie's London on July 12th

This large hand-coloured lithograph (130x164cm) published by the government of New Delhi in 1913 shows the layout to be used by Albert Griesson and his horticultural division for the design of the outdoor spaces. The architects were Lutyens and Baker. Christie's estimate was £8000 to £12000. It made £52500 including b/p.

Submitted 24/07/2017

The Antonine Itinerary. A Roman 'word map'

Sold by Bloomsbury Auctions, London on July 6th for £52000

This text of 136 leaves is almost the sole surviving example of its genre. It is a tabulated ‘word map’, or practical geographical guide. It explains, much as an underground train map does today, the order of safe stopping places between two given towns. Such maps were common in the Roman Empire, especially in public libraries where they were intended to be used as practical travel tools. However, they were usually written on bronze or papyrus, materials that could be easily reused or destroyed, and were probably regarded as mundane records, not worthy of preservation for posterity. The earliest surviving example is from the first century AD, but none compares in size with the text described here, which dates from c1500, having been copied by hand from an earlier manuscript.

It details the routes between Rome and the cities of the Empire in the third century AD, as well as the friendly mansiones on those routes. It was originally intended to guide troop movements. Here are 225 routes between Rome and towns and cities in the Mediterranean (Tripoli, Sardinia, Corsica), Italy, Arabia ‘beyond the Nile’ (i.e. Egypt), Germania , Gaul, Byzantium, Hispania , Aquitaine and Britain. The capitals ‘M.P.’ that follow each place name along the routes mark 'millia passuum' or Roman miles, followed by a number in Roman numerals. The routes for Egypt most probably chart the movements of Emperor Caracalla’s proposed visit of 214-15. Included are the ‘Itinerarium maritimum’ (pp. 127-9) explaining the routes for sea travel in the Mediterranean focussing on Sicily and the North African coastline, and the ‘Itinerarium Portuum vel positionum navium ab urbe Arelatum usque’ (pp. 129-35), specifying the route from Arles to Rome.

Submitted 17/07/2017

Central European sale hits the headlines

At Reiss's recent auction in Konigstein, a fine panorama of Prague did well, among other cartographic items. The 47x315cm framed engraving in 9 sheets by P. van den Bossche was published in 1606. It sold for 18000 Euros + b/p.

Submitted 26/06/2017

One of North America's most important maps changes hands

On June 2nd 2017, a first edition, first issue of Mitchell's 1755 map was sold for $400 000 plus buyer's premium at Graham Arader Galleries. The map was still used in the twentieth century, mainly to settle border disputes. It is entitled: 'A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America with the Roads, Distances, Canals and Extent of the Settlements'.

G. Arader
Submitted 12/06/2017

A prize for a lucky AMPG subscriber

Sometimes I check the routes taken by Antique Map Price Guides after they leave Amazon in South Carolina, USA. The AMPG shown below traveled over the Easter weekend and had 5 Arrival Scans before it reached its destination in Italy. I have therefore decided to offer a free AMPG to the first collector whose book has more than 5 arrival scans. This of course only applies to books ordered directly from Map World. The cost of delivery is included in the price. What seems amazing to me is that UPS makes a profit in spite of all the handling costs!

Submitted 11/05/2017

ortelius always a banker

Abraham Ortelius' Theatrum does well at Galerie Bassenge book auction in Berlin.

A 1592 edition with 134 maps and gold highlights sold for US$207808 on April 11th (lot 26).


Submitted 29/04/2017

London Map Fair June 17th-18th

Visit Map World at Stand 37. Entry free.

Map Fair highlights can be viewed here.

Submitted 31/03/2017


More about the author can be found at his website:

J. Richardson
Submitted 23/02/2017

Aaron Arrowsmith's North American map, 1802 does well

I watched with special interest when a fascinating map came up for auction at Gonelli's of Florence last month. The estimate was 4000 Euros. This was low, even though the map had seen better days; consider that Antique Map Price Guide no. 5 valued it at 44000 Euros. Thanks to the marvel of the internet, though, it sold for 40000 Euros, including buyer's premium. Entitled 'A Map Exhibiting all the new Discoveries in the Interior Parts of North America', it was first published in 1795, but was updated several times to keep up with the discoveries being made. The 1802 map was used by Lewis and Clark to assist them with their discoveries.

Submitted 09/01/2017

swedish, baltic maps on a roll

Swedish and Baltic maps performed well last month at Stockholms Auktionwerk. Very few lots were unsold. Many beat the high estimates, such as Braun & Hogenberg's two views of Stockholm on one sheet, which went for £1500 (high estimate £950), Dudley's map centred on Gotha, £4000 (estimate £2000), Van Keulen's Baltic Sea c1700, £2000 (est. £900 and illustrated below), Sanson's 'Curlande' 1679, £400 (est. £220) and Boisseau's 1644 map of Denmark including Southern Sweden, which went for £700 (est. £550).

Incidentally, Antique Map Price Guide no. 6 (Scandinavia) lists 837 different maps, 152 of which are of Sweden, from 1558 to 1850. Taken together, the Swedish maps are worth £125150, in fine condition. This figure now needs to be revised upwards. If you are seriously interested in acquiring all the Swedish maps, as a collection, please contact me. sold

Submitted 07/01/2017

Maps of South East Asia bring Christmas cheer

Prices are stronger than they have been in years, says Caleb Kiffer, maps and atlases specialist at Swann Auction Galleries. Their December 8th sale in New York featured early maps of the East Indies. One quarter of the top 20 lots pertained to early European exploration of the region, including The Spice Map, a colloquial term for Petrus Plancius’s Insulae Moluccae Celeberrimae, 1598, which helped to open the area to Dutch traders. Even though it was a poor example, it sold for $31,200 (illustrated here). Highlight of the sale was The Complete East-India Pilot or Oriental Navigator, 1797, Robert Laurie and James Whittle’s monumental atlas with 113 engraved charts, which sold for $81,250 ($60,000 high estimate). Also in the sale was one of the first printed maps of the region, Claudius Ptolemaus’s Undecima Asiae Tabula, circa 1490 ($6,000).

Submitted 14/12/2016

Chinese map achieves auction record

The other day, a fine example of Qianren Huang's large wood block map did well at Sotheby's London. The estimate range was £80 000 to £120 000. It made £269 000. Size of the map:137x259cm, printed in 8 vertical strips. The map was originally published in 1767. The map sold was an updated, 1823 edition.

Submitted 10/11/2016

Rarest maps continue to perform well

At Sotheby's Travel, Atlases and Maps sale on April 28th in London, the estimate for this late 17th century wall map by Frederick De Wit with some restoration was £15-£20 000. It made £32 500.  (AMPG no.4 values it at £40 000 in fine condition.)

If you happen to be in London on June 4th or 5th, why not visit the premiere Map Fair, held at the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington's Exhibition Rd, London. Entry is free. Check out London Map Fairs online. Apart from maps, Map World will be displaying all 24 volumes of Antique Map Price Guide, a monumental work, which has taken seven years to complete. Individual volumes can be purchased anytime online from Amazon. For more details about Antique Map Price Guide, please go to 'Collect Antique Maps' above.

Jeffrey. Submitted 01/05/2016



In spite of poor trading conditions, a complete copy of this atlas in 11 volumes fetched £581000 at Sotheby's London on 17th November 2015. The set includes 594 maps, which works out at roughly £1000 per map. About 300 sets are believed to have been printed. Some dealers thought the estimate range of £240000 to £320000 was somewhat optimistic.

Submitted 30/11/2015

Customer testimonial

'Safely and gratefully received this morning, exactly as described - many thanks'.

Dr Neil...
Submitted 14/10/2015

A 'home grown' Chinese map

These are harder to find than hen's teeth. The 'experts' told us: 'It's a Japanese map of China'. But this is not the case. It may, or may not have been printed in Japan. However, the text is Chinese, which is what counts. Dated c1880, the map was part of a set of maps showing the different dynasties. Details of the map can be found here.

Incidentally, we also recently acquired a Japanese map of the northern part of China, which was printed just after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. More info here.

Map World.
Submitted 29/05/2015


Another winner for Antique Map Price Guide

Philippines map sells for record price.

Antique Map Price Guide no.15 (Asia) has this map, by P. Velarde, 1734 listed at £30 000. On November 4, it was knocked down for £170 500 at Sothebys, London. (Estimate: £20 000 - £30 000).

Some people say that AMPG's prices are too high. Not always it seems. At the lower end of the market I predict a similar story within the next few years. Don't forget that the supply of atlases containing such maps has now largely 'dried up'.

Submitted 06/11/2014

Excellent sales results for books with maps at Sothebys, September 30th

The second sale of the Brooke-Hitching library attracted bids from around the world and set many auction records. Only 2 lots were unsold out of the 350 lots offered.

Top price was £458,500 for Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations (1598-1600), which included the world map (high estimate was £240,000). A complete set of Dalrymple’s maps and charts published up to 1788 reached £302,500 (high estimate £160,000), and a copy of Matthew Flinders’s Observations on the coasts of Van Diemen’s Land (1801), bound with the 3 charts, went for £290,500 (H/E £200,000). Even not so rare material did well. For example, a first edition of Dampier's Voyages (H/E £6000) sold for £10,625.

Map World.
Submitted 03/10/2014

Growth rate of antique map prices

Comparisons with house prices very favourable.

As can be seen, since 1969, house prices have risen 50 times. During the same period antique map prices have risen 83 times, based on sales of John Speed's world map. This map has been chosen because it is average in price and rarity. For comments on the prices of 'non-average' maps, see the blog below.

Submitted 29/09/2014


Prices of antique maps are extremely fluid.  At the ‘top end’ of the market, collectors are willing to pay ever more for combinations of importance, rarity and beauty.  Recently I discovered in a public library in Eastern Europe a large map of Warsaw by De Tirregaille, published in 1762 and illustrated here.

I estimated its value at £6000 for the purpose of including it in Antique Map Price Guide No. 8, based on the limited popularity of the region concerned, its size and beauty, and the fact that an example of this map had not come up for sale in the past 25 years as far as I could ascertain.  I was therefore interested to see what would happen when another example of this map was offered recently at an auction in Stockholm. The auction estimate was around £800. Everyone who attended was goggle-eyed when several collectors fought a battle for it, which took its price to £18000 including buyer’s premium.

This is not the end of the saga. At the world's premier antique map fair held in London last month, an example of this map was on display. Its asking price: £75000!

At the ‘bottom end’ of the market things are different. Buyers use the internet to compare prices, and sellers oblige them by undercutting one another. However, I don’t see this influencing the prices of antique maps for much longer, because of their limited print runs before the year 1850. As far as I can observe, antique maps made before 1850 with print runs in the hundreds rather than thousands seem to be disappearing from the internet increasingly frequently, with their values rising accordingly.

It seems that the future for antique maps looks bright, expecially if one is prepared to take a long-term investment view.

Submitted 02/07/2014

Second annual Milan antique map fair




Exploration in the Far North - Exhibition of Antique Maps in Archangel, Russia


Announcing the exhibition “From Europe to the Arctic. European Arctic Cartography - XV-XVII centuries”, which includes important material covering the voyages of Willem Barentsz. A special catalogue devoted to the 'Northern Regions' is available from Kunstantikvariat Pama of Oslo, Norway, contactable at

The exhibition takes place at the Museum of Fine Arts, Lenin Square 2, Arkhangelsk, Russia until February 2nd, 2014.

Paul Sagen.
Submitted 07/01/2014

Eighteenth Century Plan of Paris takes centre stage


'Antique maps nicely framed are just a step away from discovering new countries and horizons. Properly framed, lit, and displayed, antique maps can be a part of almost any successful design scheme.' So states leading decor consultant Marie Burgos.

Submitted 22/11/2013
 Editor: For large maps, see 'Antique Wall Maps' under Regions (above).

Another Husson copy comes to light

Our Antique Map Price Guide grows ever stronger.

If you have visited our 'Collect Antique Maps' page you will hopefully have noticed the second illustration, describing two copies of Husson's map of France, dated 1708. We have just been informed of a third copy, shown here, namely Elwe's version of 1788, which is similar to the others except that it lacks the title above the map. This additional information will be added to AMPG no. 22 in due course.

Submitted 17/09/2013
Editor: Although Pieter Husson was a 'minor' publisher of maps, most of his maps have been copied by several other publishers. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery! However, Husson also copied maps e.g. his map of the British Isles was copied from De L'Isle. according to Rodney Shirley. Any research material on Pieter Husson would be most welcome for publication here.

Mercator's Projection solved the 'course to steer'

A ship’s navigator needs a chart to plot his current position, to see how far he has progressed along his track and to estimate how far he still has to travel.  All charts prior to Mercator’s were distorted because of the curvature of the earth. So unless you were prepared to take a globe on board, which was impractical, you had problems.

Mercator realised that what was needed was for a navigator to be able to draw a straight line on a chart between the beginning and end points of his voyage, which corresponded with a fixed compass bearing.

This was only possible if your course happened to be horizontal or east – west. Any other course was problematic. Mercator solved this problem by progressively increasing the distance between lines of latitude away from the equator. This has the effect of compensating for the curvature of the earth and enabled navigators to cut across all lines of latitude at the same angle, and therefore in a straight line. This was called ‘plane’ sailing, now changed to plain.

The only inaccuracies occurred near to the North and South poles, which is where such places as Greenland and Magellan's Straits are grossly exaggerated in size. This is why some maps with Mercator’s projection had lines of longitude that converged to a point at the poles.

Mercator introduced his projection in 1569 but it took another 70 years for it to be fully accepted at sea.

Map World.
Submitted 20/07/2013

Maps of Texas more than holding their value in uncertain times

Auction of antique maps of Texas held in Austin, capital of Texas, on April 4/5, 2013.

The results of the auction show that the most desirable maps are unaffected by current global economic problems. The results also demonstrate that maps of local regions can be the most desirable. The auctioneer, Dorothy Sloan, offers some of the most detailed catalogue descriptions anywhere. One of the most famous maps of Texas, by Stephen F. Austin, was included in the auction (illustrated above). We had valued this 1836 updated re-issue of the original 1830 map at £50 000. On April 4 it sold for £130 000, not including the buyer’s premium.

Map World.
Submitted 04/04/2013
Editor: Texas is far from being the only 'hot spot' for investing in antique maps. For example, maps of Cyprus are doing well during the current financial turmoil in that country. For information about long-term investing, consult any Antique Map Price Guide (volumes 1 to 24) and check out the maps with rated values around £3000 or more. Waiting for them to go down in value is not advised.

A large collection of Polish maps that keeps more than 1700 items as at November 2015!


Chris Rencki only began collecting antique maps five years ago. Today, he has amassed a collection of more than 1100 items at his London home, from the 15th to the 18th century, from maps to town views, from miniatures to wall maps. He is determined to frame them all so that one day, after he is gone, they can be displayed 'for the next 500 years' at a Polish museum.

Map World.
Submitted 31/01/2013
Editor: Thanks for allowing us to share this.

A first-time acquisition; just uploaded our first map of Korea

Very few Western maps of Korea exist. Over the past centuries this country has kept a low profile, as South Korea tries to do in modern times.

Map World.
Submitted 22/12/2012

Customer Testimonial

Map arrived safely today. Very pleased with it. Best regards,

Dave (Professor).
Submitted 27/11/2012

Two illustrations to accompany Notes 1 and 2 below

Helping to dispel the myth that the earth was flat.

Thought these might be worth showing; the first printed map of Russia (1482) to incorporate 'modern' changes to Ptolemy's first-century-AD map, published in the Florence Ptolemy, and the Ulm Ptolemy1482 map of the world. As you point out in AMPG no. 1, this map copies something very important from the Florence Ptolemy published earlier the same year or more likely in 1481. This was the use of curved lines of longitude to indicate a three-dimensional curvature of the earth, which many people at the time believed was flat.


Submitted 16/11/2012

Early Mapmaking

Notes 1.

The printing press was invented around 1440. Printed words were images made from inked type-faces impressed on pieces of paper. However, the first maps in printed books were made by engraving lines and words into flat pieces of copper. The part that printed was not the metal face or surface, as in the case of type, but the cuts into the metal, after they were filled with ink. Printing what lies below the surface of a metal face is called Intaglio printing. Engraving maps was painstaking and highly skilled work and had to be done in the form of mirror images so that the printed image was the right way round. This was why early books of maps were extremely expensive to make and buy. This was perhaps just as well, as the soft copper plates became smooth after several hundred impressions were made from them. The first book of maps was produced in Bologna, Italy in 1477. The contents of the maps in this atlas were taken from Ptolemy of Alexandria’s work in the first century AD, which was passed on by hand copying before printing was invented. It was only in 1482 that some updates were made to Ptolemy’s ideas, in an atlas produced in Florence, Italy. Four of the 31 maps in this atlas (France, Spain, Italy and the Holy Land) were issued in two forms (Ptolemaic and ‘modern’) and a fifth map (Western Russia) was largely based on Ptolemy but included a few changes.

Notes 2.

Towards the end of 1482 the first printed atlas outside Italy was published in Ulm, Germany. It was based on Ptolemy’s ideas, just as the Florence, Italy atlas of earlier the same year, but the maps were not made by engraving copper sheets, as the Florence atlas was, but by cutting away wood blocks. The printed image was the raised part of the wood, not the cut away part. This method was just as painstaking as the Italian Intaglio method. But it suffered from additional problems, such as the impossibility of making fine lines, which included fine lettering. (The latter problem was solved in part by cutting holes in the wood and inserting typefaces). The publisher of the Ulm Atlas made up for its defects by colouring the maps by hand and by adding a fifth ‘modern’ map (Scandinavia). The project was successful for these reasons and was reprinted in 1486 with different colours, just as beautiful as those used in the first edition. However, the wood block method of printing was not used for mapmaking after the year 1600 - accuracy and fineness of detail were, and still are, of prime importance in mapmaking.

Submitted 02/11/2012

11th Annual Paris Antique Map & Travel Book Fair


The 11th annual Paris Antique Map & Travel book fair will take place on Saturday 10 NOVEMBER 2012 again in Hotel Ambassador in the centre of Paris.The fair will be open to the public from 11AM till 6PM.

Submitted 29/10/2012


An indispensible reference book on the sea charts of Norway.

Ginsberg, William B.
4to. Hard cover, dust wrapper. Price: EUR 112.00 Septentrionallium Press, New York, N.Y. 2009

Sea Charts of Norway, 1585–1812 is the first book to examine the sets of coastal charts of Norway by the major cartographers and their publishers. Its 13 chapters and 320 illustrations, some of which are of unrecorded maps, provide an overview of the historical development of Norwegian marine cartography and complement the author’s previous two works on maps of Norway and Scandinavia: Maps and Mapping of Norway, 1602–1855 and Printed Maps of Scandinavia and the Arctic, 1482–1601. Available from

Submitted 21/10/2012

Customer Testimonial

Many thanks – your lovely maps have just arrived. My bank manager did telephone me to explain and to apologise. I was shocked (though I would have been delighted to be paid by a map dealer for accepting his maps !!!). Typical commercial banking bureaucratic incompetence – I hope that it does not affect our future relationship.

Submitted 05/10/2012

Spending Time With Antique Maps

The more time you spend with antique maps, the better you’re able to develop an awareness of all aspects of this collecting field. Looking closely at lots of antique maps at every opportunity—from antique map shops to fairs to libraries to your own collection—helps to develop all of your map senses. And the more you do it, the more you’ll notice about antique maps that you just hadn’t noticed before. Whether it’s an awareness of the quality of engravings, the detection of repairs, or the different appearances of early and modern hand-colouring, nothing can replace long-term experience with the antique maps themselves.

The more antique maps you look at, the more you’ll see in them, especially if you keep your mind open to new possibilities and new aspects of potential interest. These can include physical characteristics, such as differences in paper and variant editions. There can also be striking variations in what publishers chose to include and omit in their maps. Earlier antique maps also present constant learning opportunities about explorers and the naming of their discoveries on maps. Collecting should be based on judgment, not just money, and this judgment comes from knowledge, including the knowledge gained from long and deep observation of the objects you’re collecting.

Submitted 06/09/2012

New Antique Maps Scam

Perhaps members of the antique map trade will be interested to hear about this on-line scam, which was new to me as an antique map dealer.

A prospective buyer, supposedly a shop selling mementos to tourists in Fiji, ordered £3000 of maps and wished to use their own shippers because the destination was ‘off the map’ and because of customs problems. They asked me to get an express quote from their shippers, which I did, making the total £3890, including collecting the maps from me. They then tried to settle by credit card before shipping. Fortunately for me the credit card centre was unable to locate the owner of the credit card to confirm the transaction was legitimate. I then became suspicious and checked out the shop in Fiji. It did not exist and neither did the shippers.

The scam was not to collect the maps but the £890 shipping charges, which I had to pay up front by Western Union immediately after being paid in full with a stolen credit card.

Antique Map Dealer.
Submitted 28/08/2012

Customer Testimonial

The map has arrived safely. A wonderful addition to my collection. Thank you.

Submitted 20/08/2012