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Is This Antique Map in a Good Condition or Not?

Antique maps,ancient history map,antique map condition

If you are a dealer and wish to download your collection of antique maps onto collectors, you are within your rights to give an excellent description of each one! Of course, it is not to be wondered at if a lot of subjectivity creeps into the descriptions. You probably rely on your reputation to convey the impression that whatever you sell will definitely be in a good condition. And you are offering a return guarantee in the bargain.

Now if you are a collector on the hunt for maps of the past, you would do well to get varied catalogues about the same items so that you can make a sensible comparison. Auction catalogues prove very useful as they provide complete information about the condition of each map. If they don’t, who is going to buy the items?

It is not unrealistic to expect such maps to be subjected to some amount of wear and tear; after all, they were made from paper used for atlases. And if they have traveled on the seas, you can imagine how many people must have handled each one! Especially the antiques that have been handed down from the 1800s may not even be in a repairable condition. However, if you are a passionate collector, you will wish to own a map even in this degraded condition! The price will depend on the condition of the item being sold.

What are counted as major defects? The paper can turn terribly brown if the map has been printed on poor quality paper (but you can now do nothing about it), visible writing on the surface which has produced a defacing effect, tears seen on the printed surface, and actual loss of the printed surface.

Maps were carried around in a folded condition, as atlases. So, there are bound to be centerfolds and possibly more in large maps. This is not a defect—major or minor. If you can see aging of the paper in the form of slight brown spotting or marginal tears or a little bit of creased paper or some shadowing because of ink traveling across the folded map—these are minor defects.

Here is further guidance on testing the condition of the antique map you are planning to buy—

(1) The color is terribly faded and the paper presents a brittle and highly acidic appearance—the map is in a “poor condition”. Definitely calls for a great amount of cleaning and repair work.

(2) The color had only faded a little bit. Certain visible conditions include scattered spotting (foxing), tearing into the printed surface, or long separations on the centerfold. Now, this sort of map can be rejuvenated; so it is in a “fair condition”.

(3) The same conditions as mentioned above are present—aging effect, spotting or foxing, short separations on centerfold. Despite narrowing of margins, the paper is still in a good condition and there is no loss of the image. Colors are still vibrant. Your map is in a “good condition”.

(4) Your map presents a “very good condition” when the engraving is still bright, clean and crisp. The paper is great and the image is intact. Coloring is excellent. If there are any defects, they are to be seen in the margins—tiny tears or slight discoloration.

(5) You have hit the jackpot if you should get an antique map in this “excellent condition” or A+. The paper is sound, the engraving is marvelous, colors are vivid, and the margins are wide.

The above-mentioned grading is genuine, considering that it has been set as a standard in The Antique Map Price Record & Handbook 2001. Even Art Source International and a majority of the map dealers follow these guidelines. So, you should now be able to judge the age and price of every antique map that you see.


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