If you’re considering alternative ways to invest your money, then putting it into antiques that hold their value, such as old maps, is an excellent idea. Many people have lost faith in stocks and shares and have been let down by so-called ‘high return’ investment funds. Now is the time to look at the investment potential of old maps – many of them beautiful and historically significant works of art.
Like any other form of collecting, the purchase of rare old maps must be seen as a long term investment. The enjoyment gained from having them in your home, learning about their history and sharing them with others is all part of the appeal. As a bonus, some of the most collectible old maps have proved to be rewarding investments for their canny owners as values have risen dramatically over recent decades.
If you are new to this subject, it is definitely worth researching at length and talking to dealers and collectors alike. Buying old maps requires skill, expertise and knowledge. You have to be able to spot the fakes and to be sure that you are paying the right price. If you are considering an old map in a frame, for example, you should ask the seller to take it out for a closer inspection. Understanding the market, knowing which types of old maps are the rarest and why – it’s all part of the thrill of collecting.
The history attached to each old map can be utterly fascinating and a reward in itself. Sometimes it’s just good to know that you have an historically significant old map in your possession. Imagine owning a map of Captain Cook’s epic voyage, showing the newly-discovered Hawaii; an exquisitely decorated 17th century celestial chart; or a complete atlas charting the global political landscape.
To have significance, an antique map doesn’t necessarily have to be very old. Maps which have an interesting mistake or quirk can make them unique and therefore add to their value. Some old maps are sought after because they are curiosities -they might show a country in the guise of an animal, or depict an island that doesn’t actually exist.
Anyone thinking of investing in antique charts and maps needs to know which types of old maps are proving particularly popular among collectors. Those which chart the discovery of the Americas, for example, are very collectible. For example, one of the earliest maps to include the ‘New World’, printed in 1507 on one of the first printing presses, fetched £7 million at auction in 2001.
The more you look into the world of old maps, the more you realise how broad it is and how exciting and fascinating too. Most of the people who collect these ‘living histories’ tend to focus on a particular area of interest, whether it is a period of history, a geographical area or sea charts, for example. One thing is for certain, if you choose your old maps cleverly you will have an excellent financial asset which is both visually and intellectually rewarding too.