Topography is the study of places such as towns, districts, parts of the countryside, buildings and their settings. Before photography, engravings and etchings were the only means by which people could learn about the appearance of the scenery, great houses and ancient monuments of the land. The years between 1730 and 1870 were the great age of the topographical print.
Many places have been captured at a moment in time by means of a print. Maybe you have a favourite from this period. Such prints were the reproduction of a design incised into a metal plate by one of a number of methods, or engraved on a block of wood or drawn on a slab of stone or zinc.
What are you captured by?
Some of these plates are now rare and expensive collectors’ items. Others can still be bought for a few pounds. What often fascinates us is the fact that the place is captured at that moment in time, it sometimes holds a special significance to us or is associated with some story that has captured our imagination. Sometimes it’s a combination of the place, scenery and the method that was used to reproduce the image that holds a special attraction.
Aquatint is a complicated process which I am not going to delve into here. Produced in black and white or coloured, the later were finish with hand colouring. The first English prints in aquatint were made by Peter Burdett in or about 1771 after paintings by John Mortimer and Joseph Wright. Paul Sandby was the first Englishman to use it extensively. Within a few years the great productions of the major publishers, the Boydells, Ackerman and Bulmer began to appear.
Major Colour Publications
One of these was the Boydell’s History of the River Thames, containing seventy-six plates aquatinted by Joseph Constantine Stadler after the watercolours of Joseph Farington and first published in 1794.
Garrick's Villa c1793 by Farington, Stadler col. Volume I, Plate 45 From Joseph Farington's 'History of the River Thames', 1794 Click for more.
Many of the most important collections of aquatints were published by Rudolph Ackermann, who opened his print shop in the Strand in 1795 after emigrating from Germany and marrying an Englishwoman. His shop - the Repository of Arts - eventually replaced Boydells’ establishment as the focal point of the print trade. Aquatint became his speciality and he employed a large number of colourists to finish plates, most of which were printed in only one or two basic colours.
Covent Garden Market, Westminster Election c1808 Rowlandson & Pugin from Ackermann's Microcosm of London. Click for More.
Ackermann attracted major artists, the best known are Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin. Pugin did the buildings and Rowlandson the figures for some of Ackermann’s most successful undertakings, including the three volumes The Microcosm of London collected in 1810 from a succession of monthly parts.
What is Your Favourite Place?
I’m extremely fortunate to live very close to the River Thames and London. As a lover of aquatint the images shown here are places I know well and the method used to produce them fascinates me. Do you have a favourite place in England or somewhere else in the world? Do you have old prints of that favourite place? I’d love it if you could share by commenting below……
When we think about collecting rare or decorative prints those of us in the UK are likely to think closer to home. Maybe British topographical prints of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The beautiful aquatints of picturesque views and architectural splendours, the engravings after the superb landscape watercolours of J. M. W. Turner or the lithographs of the early railway era to mention just a few.
But what about further afield? What about the highly prized prints and documents of other parts of the world like Baghdad, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Damascus, Egypt, Kashmir, India and Morocco or Kuwait? Kuwait has a cultural heritage dating back to antiquity and Kuwaiti Researcher Mohammad Kamal's personal museum boasts many rare ancient Holy Quran copies, and Islamic documents and antiquities.
Kamal owns many 150 to 650 year old gold-engraved Quran prints that come from Baghdad, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Damascus, Egypt, Kashmir, India and Morocco. He has participated in many specialised exhibitions and events where unique ancient Islamic antiquities are put on display.
Know what you’re looking for:
He is fond of collecting old and rare manuscripts, noting that he owns some documents that date back to the 3rd and 4th century After Hijra. He explains that every era has its own engraving characteristics that help in identifying where and when documents were printed, the elaborate carvings have different colours, including rose, blue and saffron. The colours differ from one country to another, Indian and Kashmiri Quran, for example, is brown, but the Ottoman one’s are lighter.
Take advantage of technology?
Kamal noted that he travels around the world searching for Quranic copies and rare Islamic items, pointing out that thanks to technology it is now easier to find them online through different auctions or antique stores.
Are you using available technology with your own treasure hunting? The benefits of using online technology enables you to take advantage of weekly auctions from around the world. All from the comfort of your own home and laptop. Yes you must know what you’re looking for, the items current market value within reason and is the item specifically what you are looking for.
Most auction houses will do all they can to answer your questions. - If your not already doing it, get on top of the technology and get started with your very own international treasure hunt!
(Source: Kuwait News Agency/Saud Sultan)
At first glance the title to this post appears to state the obvious. However if you have just a hint of knowledge about the fascinating world of maps you'll appreciate that old maps exist in a vast variety of forms, let alone the many differences in shape, size, subject and appearance. So it's fair to ask what do collectors collect?
Here are three types of map that map enthusiasts love to collect. These examples will help you get an idea of what exists and what they look like plus if you follow the links you can get more background information to the maps, their makers and history. All have a special reason of interest for collectors as varied as the very collectors themselves. This is three types or styles of map that are collected:
Map Projections: Representations of the curved surface of Earth or a celestial sphere drawn on a flat surface. Here’s what is often referred to as a miniature map. The link below takes you to an example that is over three hundred years old. Its a map of the ancient world by Alain Mallet c1684
Ancient World by Alain Mallet c1684
Hemisphere Projections: These convert half of the spherical world to a circle. Here’s a link to an example over two hundred and eighty years old, a very collectable large map of the Eastern Hemisphere c1730 "Orbis veteribus noti tabula nova" by Guillaume Delisle (1675-1726)
Eastern Hemisphere by Delisle c1730
Sea Charts: These are often coastline maps with additional information for traversing large areas of sea. Here is a small example of a Chart of the Western or Atlantic Ocean by Thomas Bowen c1788. A Chart of the North Atlantic showing the routes from Europe to Africa and across the Atlantic to the West Indies and the plantations of America. This is a good example of a small collectable copper engraved chart.
Atlantic Ocean by Thomas Bowen c1788
This gives you a tiny taste of the kind of maps that are collected and are still available in the current market. If these types of maps are something you already collect I'd love to hear why they interest you? Please join in the conversation and leave a comment below.....
You know the saying “Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it” It has many applications in life some best not mentioned. With map collecting we’re pretty much on safe ground. So why do people do it?
It doesn’t involve Brexit! Thank god for that, but it often can involve your past, background and where you started out in life, where you’re from.
In recent years we’ve seen a growing interest in TV programs like Who do you think you are? And websites like Ancestry.com suddenly everybody wants to explore their very own family tree or discover the family history. It’s exciting, fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking to discover the lives that our long lost relatives experienced.
Even just tracing our own family history back a couple of hundred years is revealing in lots of ways. The more you find out about your relatives the more you want to see the places they lived and worked.
You somehow want to take yourself back in time and see those places as they were then, in the past. If you can find pictures or early photographs this can help. Land records and maps all help you get a feel for what it was like in times gone by.
The further back you go the harder it can get. Then it becomes more of a quest or hunt to find that missing link in the chain. Map collecting is pretty much the same. Maybe you’re just looking for something that tells you more about a certain place you have a connection with.
Maybe your family has roots in a certain area from way back, a town, a county or state, a region country or part of the world you simply have an interest in historically.
Old local maps and early photographs can help get a feel for what it was like in times gone by. This map by Henry Taunt from c1885 Published in 'A New Map of The River Thames from Thames Head to London' c1885 Oxford Taunt & Co 9 & 10 Broad Street, London. Click the link to see more: River Thames Maps
Finding what you’re looking for is rewarding, there’s a lot of fun in the chase. The reasons for collecting maps are as varied as the map collectors themselves. Does it cost a fortune to collect maps? Well it doesn’t have to.
All sorts of people collect all sorts of maps for all sorts of reasons. Like the family tree I mentioned, everybody’s past story is different. Every map collector is different and the reason they collect what they collect is often linked to their own story or journey through life.
You can start building a map collection with a modest financial approach. It can be just as challenging to find what you’re looking for as it is for those who are in a position to spend vast sums of money to gain that special prized map or collection.
If you’ve explored your own family tree and background, did old maps or prints play a part in your search? I’d love to know your story. Leave a comment below about your own experience.
At last this new site is up and running. Sometimes stuff just gets in the way. Selling antique maps and prints online for a couple of years and having launched the "Rare Maps and Prints Review" series of web-tv videos became more than a challenge.
"Time and unforeseen occurrence befall us all" springs to mind and so this site just didn't happen, until now. Hopefully this will be the place for you to discover something beautiful. Maybe you'll start a collection of your own.
The site format is a bit different. A boutique store with a small collection of antique maps and rare prints. These can be purchased directly. In addition there's online help and resources to assist the next tribe of collectors.
A Facebook group "Antique Map Collectors" has members almost daily asking is something original or reproduction. This is quickly followed by what do we think the maps current value is or how do we know its an authentic item?
Collectors always have questions and the aim here is to provide some clear practical answers. Some content will be available on the resources page, delivered using online articles, guides and video tutorials.
Maybe you'll discover something beautiful!