Maps are an important part of human progress and development. They tell us about locations and help us navigate our way to our destinations. Early versions tended to be largely pictorial representations of local areas. Every culture had its own way of designing their own, as some of the earliest ones come from ancient Babylon, Greece, and China. In the Middle Ages in Europe, many monks in monasteries created them by hand. The advent of the Renaissance did more than change the way many people thought. It also resulted in the rise of publishing houses and improved educational opportunities. Now, publishing houses could reproduce maps on printing presses and distribute them widely. Explorers helped to shape these graphical resources, as well. Modern versions, of course, are now developed using advanced satellite technology.

Since many previous manufacturers tended to create them with materials that don't easily stand the test of time, antique maps are rare treasures. Many kinds of vintage maps are collectible because they show us a snapshot of the human understanding of geography at the time. Most also included beautiful illustrations. However, these collectible maps actually go beyond showing geography. They also highlight the political or religious beliefs of the maker.

Collectors who buy maps for their library may want to scoop up some insights into their past. Cartographies of Time by Rosenberg and Grafton is a historical survey of classic selections. Mark Monmonier's How to Lie with Maps shines a light into the machinations behind cartography. One modern compendium that blends art and maps is An Atlas of Radical Cartography, which makes no bones about the fact that the maps within explore social and political issues. To purchase maps is to begin a lifelong study of our changing understanding of the world. Few graphical sources can help us understand the past, and our ancestors, like a well-drawn map.