Antique Maps

Mapmaking dates to at least the late 15th century, just a few decades after Gutenberg’s introduction of the first moveable type printing press. By the time of Queen Elizabeth’s reign during the second half of the 16th century, people were already collecting these documents, which were usually bound in books, making them important additions to any self-respecting library. The large bulk of highly collectible maps will have been printed between about 1472 and 1860. This period opens with the first known use of printing to reproduce a map (Isidore's TO map of the World of 1472), continues through the age of atlases as luxury goods for rich connoisseurs, and ends when leaps in printing technology allowed maps to be mass produced.

One Antique Map Collector’s Views

Antique maps and atlases are certainly a niche collectible, but are gaining in popularity, according to Crouch, a London-based dealer. “People tend to collect maps of places with which they have a special connection,” he says. “As people travel more, they have stronger feelings about a wider range of places around the world. Maps and atlases are by definition global, so we see buyers from all over the world too.” He says that’s why the prices of maps featuring countries with rapidly growing economies such as China, India and Brazil have increased the most in recent years.