Frequently Asked Questions

Are you interested in buying my map?

While we buy maps, it would depend on the topic, condition, price and a number of factors.  We normally buy medium to large collections at compelling prices.  If you want to provide full details of your map: title, mapmaker, date, condition, how you acquired the map, price to us (note – we normally don’t counter offer but either find the price to be acceptable or not), we will let you know whether or not we are interested in purchasing your map.  You can send us a message here.

Can you tell me how much my map is worth?

Researching the value of your map requires both time and expertise, so we cannot do this for free.  We offer two services to help you determine the value of your map- Informal Assessment and Formal Appraisal.

Informal Assessments are useful if you are curious about your map or wish to sell it.  We will give you some information about the map and an approximate value.  The cost is $35.  We will tell you if your map is not worth assessing before you are charged.

Formal Appraisals are for more valuable maps for insurance purposes.  We will give you information and the current market value with a certificate signed by Dr. Zaremba for insurance.  The cost is $75 per hour with a 1 hour minimum.  We will tell you if your map is not worth appraising before you are charged.

Where do you get your maps?

We started by purchasing two major collections from map dealers who were retiring.  Now we mostly buy maps and prints in quantity through auctions, major dealers and collectors, and individuals. People often come to us to sell us their maps.

 Why are there creases or folds in maps?

Most antique maps came from early atlases or books and that is how they were preserved over time.  Some were placed into books and made to cut out of the book when used.  A number of our maps come from parts of atlases.

Additionally, larger maps were often folded for easy transport and use.  Some maps also get folded or creased over time and in some cases, this simply adds character to the map.

 Antique or reproduction?  How do you know?

We  recommend that you purchase maps and prints from reputable dealers.  We were trained to study the paper, how it is made and restored, the type of colors or ink used, and how to spot fakes.  There are some excellent reproductions out in the market and in some cases, those can have value too but hopefully they are labeled as reproductions.  The more expensive the map, the more you need to rely on expert opinion.  Either way, if you like the map, buy it and enjoy it!

 Why do some maps look so similar and yet are made by different known mapmakers?

Early mapmakers copied maps from one another.  There were no copyright laws and this was common practice.

 What is a hand colored map?

Many maps in atlases were hand colored, often by women, children, and invalids, in assembly-line stye.  One person would be responsible for all of the pink, another for the green, etc.  Other maps were colored by professionals and those are generally better quality maps and far more valuable.

How do I know if a map was hand colored or has printed color?

Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate hand coloring from printed color, but often there are clues you can look for.  Using a magnifying glass, you can often see tiny dots, lines, or other patterns in printed color.  Sometimes when printing, the color is off from the lines in a very uniform way.  Conversely, hand coloring can have mistakes like uneven color or color outside the lines, as one would expect in something done by hand.  Note that most maps printed before 1870 were in black and white and then colored by hand.  Some publishers continued this practice for a decade or two more, but by the 1900s, most maps have printed color.

How do you determine the dates of the maps when they are not dated?

Many of our maps come from compromised and damaged atlases and though the map itself does not have a date printed on it, it came from an atlas that did have a date.  Other maps are well known and were only printed a few times, making it possible to determine their date based on the version.  Additionally, we subscribe to professional databases and have a large collection of books which help us identify the maps.  Years of experience, discussion with colleagues, and attending seminars have also helped us gain our expertise.

Why might you have an earlier date printed on a map and yet show a later date?

Maps were often made and printed in one year but published in an atlas of a later year.  We often acknowledge both dates on our listing, or we use the publish date.

Are first edition maps more valuable than others?