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Those who enjoy the art of cartography often enjoy perusing flea markets for old maps to add to his or her collection. When shopping for antique maps, it can sometimes be difficult to discern which are true antiques and which are really good copies. Unless you have significant experience in the art, you can easily mistake a print for the real deal. The following are some ways you can determine a print and an authentic antique map:
Why It Matters
Aside from the fact that, as a serious map collector, you want an authentic piece for your collection, you also want to be sure you are not being taken for a ride with regard to the price. Only true antique maps have any serious monetary and historical value. Having the ability to discern the real maps from copies can save you a lot of cold hard cash. You will be highly upset if you spend thousands on a piece that ends up being a really good copy of the real thing.
Bring a Good Magnifying Glass
When you are out looking for antique maps, have a professional-level magnifying glass on hand. You can look for some very clear signs of reproduction that will quickly tell you that the map is a copy. One tell-tale sign are small dots in the images. This is a clear indication that the images are a copy, as dot matrix and prints were not commonly used hundreds of years ago.
Check for Folds and Ridges
A common component of an original antique map is the presence of a fold in the center. For the most part, these maps were created for use in an atlas. Larger maps would have taken up two pages in an atlas, therefore leaving a crease down the middle when the book was closed. Maps created within the last generation, however, were posted on walls or spread across large tables and contain no crease.
You should also look for ridges on the surface of the map. Many antiques would have included engravings on them. Adding these engravings would have created marks on the edges as the copper plates were pressed on the paper. If there are no marks on the map, it is either a reproduction or not as old as is being represented.
Dealing in antique maps is an art form, and you must know what you are looking for if you want authentic pieces for your collection. If you are just starting out, be sure to speak with a professional antique map dealer to get some additional pointers. To learn more, talk to companies like Harlan J. Berk, LTD.