Thinking about Collecting Old Maps?

Mike Buehler head shot
Mike Buehler
Boston Rare Maps
Antique maps and historical prints are terrific collectibles… for $500-2500 you can purchase an image that provides an immediate connection with history, looks great on the wall, and—to my mind at least!—remains undervalued relative to other collecting fields.

Now, I understand that new collectors have all kinds of questions: What should I collect? What makes a “good” map? How do I know the price is fair? How do I know I’m not buying a fake?

Here are just a few pieces of advice: First, start educating yourself. Pick up a book on old maps, or maybe surf the internet for material that interests you. For instance, here’s an article I wrote about “How do I know an antique map or print is real?

Second, find a dealer you like and trust, and who is willing to put some time into guiding you as you begin building your collection. One sign of a good dealer is his or her membership in a professional association with a strong code of ethics, such as the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America.

Above all, don’t let “analysis paralysis” get in your way! Buy a piece (or two or three!) that you like and whose cost is well within your comfort range, and see what happens. Frame it (or them) and hang it on the wall, and use it as an opportunity to start learning more. If after a few months you’re no longer in love with it, don’t worry…. you will probably be able to trade it for another one you like better. If after a few months you still love it, great! Maybe buy another, related map, and start developing your collection from there.

Here are a few examples of “starter” maps and prints we’re currently offering. Feel free to call or email if we can be of assistance in any way.

18th-century New England items

18th-century map of Nantucket
18th-century map of Nantucket
Boston on the brink of Revolution
Boston on the brink of Revolution
Boston Light in 1789
Boston Light in 1789
The first obtainable print of Harvard
The first obtainable print of Harvard
Rare view of 18th-century Boston
Rare view of 18th-century Boston

Other interesting items of note

Patriotic advertisement for “Schultz’s Star Soap”
Patriotic advertisement for “Schultz’s Star Soap”
Charming guide map of Boston
Charming guide map of Boston
Four anti-war maps by the War Resisters League
Four anti-war maps by the War Resisters League
An anti-Communist propaganda map
An anti-Communist propaganda map
Ben Nason poster promoting travel to the Berkshires
Ben Nason poster promoting travel to the Berkshires
Ben Nason poster promoting travel to Nantucket
Ben Nason poster promoting travel to Nantucket
Colorful bird’s eye view of New York City
Colorful bird’s eye view of New York City
Birds-eye view of the Charles River
Birds-eye view of the Charles River
The “Famous Berkshire Hills”
The “Famous Berkshire Hills”
Early American playing cards
Early American playing cards
A milestone in American game publishing
A milestone in American game publishing
Delightful playing board for a geographic game
Delightful playing board for a geographic game
Chromolithographic advertising with George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt
Chromolithographic advertising with George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt
A superb “cartifact” bearing a double-hemisphere world map
A superb “cartifact” bearing a double-hemisphere world map