Authorized Map of the Second Byrd Expedition - Antarctica - 1934
Authorized Map of the Second Byrd Expedition - Antarctica - 1934


Let's hear it for cartographers. Without map-makers, who knows how we'd find our way around. But they have an easier job of it today, with most of the globe explored, charted, recorded and explored again. Early map-makers struggled against many adversities - imagine traveling to far-off lands and trying to accurately record your voyage, on tiny scale, well enough for the next ship of travellers to follow your route?

And all this before smart phones, too.

The origins of cartography are difficult to pinpoint, as the definitions of maps tend to vary widely from scholar to scholar. But from early cave paintings of geographical directions, to clay tablets originating in ancient Greece and Babylonia, humans have been using meticulous drawings as a means of recording our explorations of the world around us for thousands of years.

cartouche, from a map of New England
This cartouche, from a map of New England, includes a vignette of the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth.
The possibilities of wide exploration and more accurate cartography rose sharply in the 15th century, with the advent of the Gutenberg printing press, and a growing desire for trade products not commonly available worldwide. Previously, the art of map-making had been heavily intuitive and problematic to replicate or verify. It was in the 15th century that the Roman mathematician, geographer and astronomer Claudius Ptolemy's Cosmographia, originally compiled in the 2nd century AD, was translated from Greek into Latin and became Germany's first published atlas by Lienhart Holl in 1482.

Many maps are not only records of information but also things of great beauty - map-makers frequently embellished their creations with elaborate whaling scenes, illustrations of ships, sea monsters and more. Many maps also include a cartouche, which is a decorative emblem or enclosure on a map. A map's cartouche (example at right) often involves scrolls and seals, shields and other symbols of country and creator, the date of the map's completion and more. Cartouches became commonplace in map usage in the 1500s, and were often used as the signature of the map-maker, again incorporating information about the map itself as well as varying artistic elements and even mythical animals.

Today, rare and antique maps are highly prized by collectors. Inaccuracies, changing region names and borders and previously held beliefs about the world we live in all contribute to making maps one of the most elegant ways to enjoy the history of our geography.

Please note: quantity on rare items is extremely limited; copies on display may sell quickly.


Rare Maps and Antiquarian Maps

An Atlas of England and Wales - 1579
An Atlas of England and Wales - 1579

Atlas that includes 35 full-sheet engraved and hand-colored maps with gilt and argent ornamentation.

The World and Continents - Five Maps -1649
The World and Continents - 1649


An excellent set of the World and Continents, by Hondius and Jansson, two of the Netherlands' greatest cartographers.

Map of the United States Exhibiting the Post Roads, etc. - c. 1812
Map of the United States Exhibiting the Post Roads, the situations, connexions - c. 1812

The first U.S. map published following Louisiana statehood and in glorious full contemporary coloring.

Antique Map of Japan - 1606
Antique Map of Japan - 1606


The decoration to the map includes: sea monsters, a Japanese junk and a Dutch galleon. This map is considered to be a milestone in Japan's cartography

Mappe Monde, ou carte generale de la Terre, divise en deux Hemispheres - 1711
Mappe Monde, divise en deux Hemispheres - 1711

First published in 1694, this map by De Fer was periodically updated with the newest cartographic discoveries. Such updates were usually the result of explorations in the East and West Indies.

Dutch New York - 1674
Dutch New York - 1674


This map was originally published shortly before the English occupation of New Netherlands in 1664.

A New Map of Mexico and Adjacent Provinces - 1810
A New Map of Mexico and Adjacent Provinces - 1810

An important foundation map of Texas. Large engraved map on four sheets, joined as two, fine original outline and hand-color.

Map of the City of New York - c. 1850
Map of the City of New York - c. 1850

A very rare mid-19th century large-scale map of New York published to be hung in the city's fire stations.

A New Map of the United States Reflecting the 1840 Census Returns and Westward Expansion
A New Map of the United States Reflecting the 1840 Census Returns and Westward Expansion - 1841

A map of the United States including every county ennumerated in the Census of 1840.

North America - The Codfish Map - 1730
North America - The Codfish Map - 1730

Herman Moll's "Codfish Map", famous for its educational, large cartouche of the cod industry. Dried cod was a staple for the Royal Navy.

A Map of the United States of Mexico - 1846
A Map of the United States of Mexico - 1846

An engraved map on banknote paper, with original hand-color, by esteemed 19th century mapmaker H.S. Tanner.

Nova et Accuratissima Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula - 1662
Nova et Accuratissima Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula - 1662

Copper-engraved map of the world, with original colour and Latin text on verso, by Dutch cartographer Jan Blaeu.
Lutzenburg Ducatus - 1635
Lutzenburg Ducatus - 1635

1635 W. and J. Blaeu colored map of Luxemburg, with coat of arms. Dutch text on verso.
A Map of Part of Yucatan Part of the Eastern Shore within the Bay of Honduras - 1787
A Map of Part of Yucatan Part of the Eastern Shore - 1787

This rare, large-scale British map of Belize was produced after the
Logwood Trade convention treaty between Great Britain and Spain.
A New Map of Jamaica - 1771
A New Map of Jamaica - 1771

A highly detailed map showing towns, churches, forts, sugar works, Gentlemens Seats, Taverns, Roads and barracks, etc

 

Map of America - 1822
Map of America - 1822

Large engraved map on four sheets, dissected and mounted on linen, in two sections, fine original outline hand-colour, inset of Cape Horn.
Map of Eastern Colonial Canada and United States - 1755
Map of Eastern Colonial Canada and United States - 1755

This important map was issued at the outbreak of hostilities in the French and Indian War. A small vignette of Niagara Falls adds further interest.
A Map of Cape Cod and the Islands - 1930
A Map of Cape Cod and the Islands - 1930

Pictorial map of Cape Cod and surrounding areas featuring many illustrations, including King Neptune holding a sign that reads "Nantucket Sound" on his trident.
Chart of the Coast of Georgia and South Carolina - 1780
Chart of the Coast of Georgia and South Carolina - 1780

An important and quite scarce chart of the coast of Georgia and parts of South Carolina and Florida, as well as an important Revolutionary War battle plan.
A New Map of the British Empire in America - 1740
A New Map of the British Empire in America - 1740

The first large-scale map of the English colonies in North America, and the first English map to name all the original 13 colonies.
Universe Europae Maritime - 1592
Universe Europae Maritime - 1592

This early sea chart is richly embellished with compass roses, sea monsters, sailing ships, coats of arms and rhumb lines.
Map of New England - 1928
Map of New England - 1928

A delightful and rarely seen map of New England. The ocean area is particularly fanciful with a sea monster, a whaling scene and several kinds of fish and ships.
Map of Cuba - 1911
Map of Cuba - 1911

A very rare military mapping of Cuba, relating to the Spanish-American Way.
Map of the Gold Regions of California - 1849
Map of the Gold Regions of California - 1849

Published in 1849, this map offered prospective gold seekers all of the information necessary to make the arduous trek to the West Coast.
The Sportsman's Map of Alaska - 1933
The Sportsman's Map of Alaska - 1933

For all gentlemen whale harpooners, climbers of mountains, hunters of big game, and Alaskaneers - with inset of lower 48 states, Asia and Alaska.

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