What is important when buying antique maps

Every buyer of antique maps should take the following 7 points into consideration, in order to ensure that the map in question is a good purchase.

1. Creator of antique map

The creator, otherwise known as the map maker, does not necessarily have to be among the top ten map makers, but it would be important that the map maker is among the top 30 best copper-plate engravers, and that, if possible, his name is also appears on the antique map itself.

2. Time

Copper-engraved maps were only engraved in small quantities in the 16th century, however their quantities increased in the 17th and 18th centuries. Later versions (steel-engraving) usually have higher runs and are therefore less suitable as an investment, with the exception of very rare pieces. 

3. Condition of the map

Antique maps should be in good condition, undamaged, without any wormholes, mould stains nor water damage and they should not show strong discolouration. Minor repairs, which have been carried out professionally, are acceptable. Furthermore, the map should be originally-coloured or also hand-coloured at a late date.

4. Size

In general, the measure of length of the map is usually over 45 cm. However smaller sized maps (from so-called minor editions) are enjoying an increasing popularity.

5. Beauty and Decorative Design

Old maps represent a piece of history and aside from the colouration and the cartographic image, the diverse configuration plays a crucial role in determining their value, due to the resulting increasing demand. Cartouches, ornaments, embellishments, mythical creatures, animal figures, etc. comprise, in many cases, the design of an antique map and are valued higher for their richness and beauty.

6. Certificate or accompanying text description

It is important, that the map comes with an accompanying description and that the authenticity is ensured. For this purpose, a well-reputed dealer should give the buyer a warranty.

7. Sheet layout

The map should have enough margin area to enable it to be framed. Maps, which have been too closely cut around the edges, must be artificially increased, which in turn decreases it’s the value.