Antique Maps

Antique Maps
Collecting antique maps has thousands of followers. Maps have always been an object of curiosity, attraction and desire for human beings, especially if they are centuries-old documents. Collecting this type of documents, both in the form of charts and as part of antique atlases, has become a real passion for many people. These charts allow us to...
Collecting antique maps has thousands of followers. Maps have always been an object of curiosity, attraction and desire for human beings, especially if they are centuries-old documents. Collecting this type of documents, both in the form of charts and as part of antique atlases, has become a real passion for many people. These charts allow us to know how our ancestors saw the world and the territory, and to verify that their knowledge of geography was incredibly accurate. Especially considering that the antique maps were drawn from the ground, without being able to see the contours of the continents from the air or space.

On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that some of these pieces fetch a high value at auction. The most sought-after antique maps and atlases are those that are complete, having been made by important cartographers and printers. Not so long ago, it was a common practice to separate the sheets of atlases in order to sell the maps separately, thus increasing profits. Today, however, the trend is to preserve the works in their entirety. Thanks to this, magnificent works have been preserved, such as an original atlas by Giacomo Cantelli da Vignola with 23 Maps of Europe and the Continents of the World, whose value at auction started at 5,400 euros.

The earliest known map is an engraved Babylonian tablet, dated to the 6th century BC. The circular shape of the map is striking, more symbolic and mystical than realistic. This circular shape is associated with perfection and will be repeated in other later antique maps. This is the case of the first known world map in scale: the map of Anaximander, made around 520 BC. In antique Greece maps underwent an enormous evolution, appearing documents that included latitudes and longitudes or meridians.

The antique maps created between the 8th and 15th centuries gave a new impetus to the art of cartography. Above all, Muslim experts and travelers created documents of enormous value, which included for the first time the representation of cartographic features: mountain ranges, rivers, lakes ... The most prominent is undoubtedly Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Idirisi, whose world map 'Tabula Rogeriana' (1154, approximately) already considered the Earth to be spherical, adding the aforementioned features. Medieval maps continued to try to represent the world; in Europe they had a strong religious component, with the Bible as inspiration. In many cases, as is the case with the famous Hereford Map (circa 1300), they are scarcely realistic.

The maps of the sixteenth centuries already include the New World, the newly discovered American continent that changed the conception (and cartography) would raise completely. The most antique one that is conserved is the one by the Cantabrian sailor Juan de la Cosa, and at the moment it is conserved in the Naval Museum of Madrid. In the following centuries, much more precise cartographies were created, which were changing according to new discoveries. The maps and projections of Gerardus Mercator (16th century), the first cartographer to make a map of the Arctic, are famous. This map was the inspiration for one of Edgar Allan Poe's best-known stories, "Manuscript Found in a Bottle".

From this moment on, the maps of the 17th, 18th and later centuries reflect a conception of the world and countries much closer to our current reality. Today it is possible to acquire magnificent original engravings in good condition, perfect to be part of a collection or to decorate studios or living rooms previously framed. Because acquiring antique maps is, without a doubt, a fascinating hobby that allows us to delve into the world and the life of our ancestors.
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