Antique Map Collecting

By: Felix Zhucha

Antique map collecting is a very popular hobby. It is an ideal choice for those interested in geography and cartography, history, art, politics...The good news is that you don't need a lot of money to get started.

What should you collect? The best idea is to collect something that you like. Antique map collectors usually focus on either "vertical" or "horizontal" type of collection. "Vertical" means that you can collect maps from one country or one particular area of the world, and follow the development of that country or area through history. "Horizontal" means that you concentrate on a particular time period or on the work of only one mapmaker.

Before you decide what types of maps to collect, you must also decide how much money you are able to spend on antique map collecting. So, what can you expect to pay for an antique map? There are many maps still available for less than $150. However, rare antique maps can be very expensive, sometimes reaching five or six figures. Older maps are generally more valuable. However, maps from the 16th century can be bought for under $250 while maps from the 19th century can be worth thousands of dollars. The value of old maps is also affected by supply and demand. Maps of Africa, India, Russia, and South America and other less popular regions, can be very affordable. If you don't want to spend money buying original maps, you can buy reproductions of expensive and rare antique maps.

The best thing a beginner should do is to visit antique map shops, talk to the dealers and see the wide range of maps available. Also, there are dedicated map fairs, and antiquarian book fairs where antique map dealers are represented. Antique maps are sold in two forms - bound in a book or atlas, or as a separate sheet.

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