Rare Early Maps

What makes rare maps so informative and so fascinating?

Rare Maps

Antique Atlases

Decorative Prints

Cartography Books

Map Collecting





Mr. Philip D. Burden
P. O Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
UNITED KINGDOM

Tel: +44 1494 76 33 13


Rare Maps and History

Rare maps provide an unusual glimpse not only into the history of cartography but into history in its widest sense. Maps embody both the history and the knowledge available at the time the map was prepared and also the technical and artist achievements of the day. Antique maps were thought of as scientific, authoritative documents which imparted power and control, and were often the preserve of powerful governments or individuals. They were media tools used to promote political interests or financial concerns including fresh colonies around the world. Vintage maps were often used as the media are today, to influence public opinion about territories claimed but which may not yet be fully under control.

Click the link for a selection of high quality rare early maps for sale.

The flowering of the Restoration in Europe, the European discovery of the Americas, Africa and Asia and the development of printing in Europe all coincided chronologically. Following quite rapidly behind those developments came the printing of images. At first simple woodcut illustrations were used but soon the use of copper plates superceded woodcuts. The first ‘atlas’, to use the modern term, was printed using copper in Bologna, Italy, in 1477. It was a printed version of the Egyptian text entitled ‘Geographia’ by Claudius Ptolemy. At first these atlases contained ancient and, it was soon to be realised, inaccurate maps. Modern maps were included gradually but starting almost immediately and, in 1570, Abraham Ortelius published the first atlas as we know it with a complete set of modern, well-informed maps of the whole world.

raremap.jpg (210001 bytes)

Willem Janszoon Blaeu:
Nova et Accuratissima Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula Auctore Joanne Blaeu

Decoration of Rare Maps

By the end of the sixteenth century, the most advanced maps were being printed in northern European countries. Great mathematical advances in projecting these maps were being made, notably by Gerard Mercator, with one such projection famously named after him. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were also an era of elaborately decorated engravings and maps were no exception. Further great map makers of the period included Jodocus Hondius, Willem Blaeu, Jan Jansson and John Speed, to name but a few. 

The beauty of rare maps is that it encapsulates much of the written word into a single two dimensional image over which your eyes can successfully dance for hours. One could in fact write an entire book about any one of many individual early rare maps. This is what makes them such a fascinating form of media.

Rare Maps and Economic Power

Old maps give us an understanding of human development. We can see the literal understanding of the shape of the land and sea around us, and the physical development of towns and cities. The spread of European culture and political influence around the world and the conflicts it brought are thoroughly ‘discussed’ in maps. The introduction of technology in the form of canals and railways and their gradual spread and influence around the globe can be readily inferred from early maps. The economic interests of the day are often recorded in the illustrations applied to the maps, reflecting the society of the day as well as commercial greed. The clarity and ease with which this information can be visualised is one of the aspects that makes rare maps so fascinating to us.

Click the link for a selection of high quality rare early maps for sale.

Rare Maps

Antique Atlases

Decorative Prints

Cartography Books

Map Collecting

Rare Early Maps. All original content, images, translations, source code and HTML code
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