If you’re a newbie to antique maps or at the early stages of building a collection you’ve probably already experienced feelings of confusion or dismay at the outcome of what some maps sell for. Sometimes it just all seems illogical and buying under such circumstances is a real problem.
Truth be told there are many factors that together determine and influence the price of a map. If you just consider how the market itself is made up, it gives you some idea why there is such apparent variation in the antique map market. You have dealers, auctions, serious collectors, casual collectors, institutions and people who simply buy maps as decorative items. All this creates fluctuation in the overall market and there can be a wide price difference for the same map in differing markets.
Why So Much Variation?
You have the simple fact that some maps of certain parts of the world are collected more than others. Then there are the maps that are bought and sold more frequently, which tends to create a relatively narrow more stable price range for these maps. At the other extreme you have scarce or more unusual maps that can sometime demand almost whatever the seller wants when it comes to price.
There really is no one determining factor that sets a maps price and you could easily fill a small book explaining the various issues that should be taken into consideration. I’ll do my best to cover some of these in future posts.
Get a Fix on the Potential Sale Price
One thing you can do is research online into current and historic price data. A simple way is to take a look at auction sales data. Most auction houses give an estimate on an items potential sale price. Obviously this can be far exceeded on occasion and this is because the market itself decides the value on the day.
Just consider the factors already mentioned above. Who is buying, why are they buying, what are they buying the map for? All will have an affect on what price will be paid. This is why your own research is so important. Keep in mind also, auction houses charge a commission on the purchase price so this must be factored in when buying.
The Market Speaks!
The maps shown here are examples of popular maps sold in the last week here in the UK (April 2019). These maps are generally available in the market with the exception of the last map of Yorkshire by Philip Overton. The others are normally found in the possession of most map dealers who sell to the retail market. The prices achieved for these maps at auction are closer to what is known as a 'dealer' price. All would cost you more if you were buying retail from a reputable antique map dealer.
If the maps of John Speed or Johannes Blaeu are of interest to you you can find some English county maps on the site HERE. If you have an interesting map buying experience please tell us about it by leaving a comment below.....
Thanks as always to Dominic Winter Auctions for map images and auction results. More HERE.