A regular question asked on Facebook groups like "Antique Map Collectors" is what's it worth? People stick up a picture of some map they've picked up at some estate sale or something thats been tucked away in the attic for years in the hope it may just be worth money.
Most times these are no more than reproduction maps, not even antique and of little value. Occasionally the map is antique but commonplace and therefore only worth a few pounds. The truth is there are no fixed price’s for maps. You’ll have to take some time and do some research to get an understanding of how the map market works. Some maps that are more popular with a wide appeal do have a more stable price range but this is not the case with most maps.
Above: America Civil War Map by Theodre Ettling c1861. Depending where you interact with the market affects the price you'll pay. The illogical reality in this example shows the variation in what you could pay.
Within the antique map market there are segments that within themselves create differing sub markets. Prices will differ within these sub markets for the same map. Think of it like this, the overall market is made up of a mix of buyers and sellers including dealers, auction houses, serious collectors, casual collectors, institutions, even interior decor buyers and various others that of themselves create there own transient markets.
The buyers and sellers take into consideration factors that will impact the price of the map being sold. These factors will include factors like: Geographical area popular or unpopular. Popular maps with wide appeal will usually demand a higher price. An early state or first edition of a map by a mapmaker of significance will usually demand a higher price than a later edition of the same map.
But there’s lots of other factors that affect price. No two maps are exactly the same! Add to this issues like condition good or not so good, its visual appeal, has it got original colour, later colour, or is it uncoloured as first published. As an example, if this is a popular map the issue of colour alone may make for a higher value if its original, or it could even lower the value if the colour has been added later and executed poorly or incorrectly for the period!
There are many experienced dealers with websites, do your research and you will be able to establish some guidelines on price’s for most antique maps for both retail and trade prices.
Top Tip: Research, research, research. Knowledge gained along with experience comes highly recommended at this stage. As they say “If in doubt - don’t” well maybe don’t is no help so I recommend ask someone with more experience and if you can’t ask directly you can reach out to people online.
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