How to Decorate With an Antique Map of Your City

An antique map can be a great way to decorate your home or office. It’s a great conversation piece and something most guests are really attracted to. You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate old quaint maps, imperfect geography, or just a street name change.

X Marks the Spot

As long as there have been printing presses, there have been mass-produced maps. For many places, it is possible to even find 400-plus year old printed maps.

An antique map dealer is the place to find the most exclusive, old, and unique maps. The very earliest Atlases could only be printed in black and white. The colors had to be hand-painted in each copy. So a colorful map is the most beautiful, but also the most difficult to make, and hence, the most expensive.

While early geographers worked out the exact contours of the land, they filled the empty spots they didn’t know with sea monsters, land beasts, and other imaginary characters. An antique map with these features or with a fancy compass rose is very popular with collectors as well.

If you decide to make an investment in a fine antique map, buy it from a reputable dealer. You can expect to spend a few hundred dollars for a modest printed example, or thousands for a hand-made, one-of-a-kind piece of artwork. Read up first on fakes and reproductions and learn how to tell real age and proper wear of a piece of paper. It should be framed only by a professional conservator and never hung in sunlight.

Modern Maps

But, many places in North America were well-mapped from the beginning, never surrounded by terra incognita. So this actually makes your decorating choice easier: you can therefore pick a more modern antique map.

By the 1850s most of North America was reasonably well-known, and the densely inhabited parts back East were mapped as well as they are today. And when color printing appeared, so too did inexpensive, colorful, accurate Atlases.

Modern Atlases were so mass-produced that buying a leaf or two from these old books is not expensive at all. For just a few dollars, anyone can pick up a map of their state or home city from before WWII for less than $15. Since they are so inexpensive, this kind of antique map is generally not worth the expense of conservation framing. Many will fit right into a pre-made frame, or, at most, you can have a mat cut to fit it.



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