Frequently Asked Questions about Selling your maps

We receive many calls and emails every week from folks around the world asking about various aspects of our business. We hope this article will help answer some of those questions!

Do you buy maps?

Yes, we do buy maps sometimes, but our interest in purchasing your maps depends on many factors. These factors include the age of the maps, the condition they are in, whether or not they are framed and how far away they are located from us, what part of the world they depict, and the price. We do ask that anyone who wants to sell us something have a price that they would feel comfortable with. We do not usually make offers. We don't have an unlimited budget for buying maps, so we must be selective. Please send us an email with information about your items including your price. 

How do I figure out the value of my map?

The value of your map will depend on many factors- age, maker, condition, and even the context. For example, if you are appraising the map for insurance purposes, the value for insurance will be higher than if you were to sell you map to a map dealer, who needs to acquire maps at a low enough price to make money when selling them.

The easiest way to research your map is using Google. Look on the map and make a note of any text such as the title, copyright information (usually found in tiny printing at the bottom), etc. Then search google using the title, year, or maker and the words “antique map.” If you know how to use Google Lens, that can also be a great resource.

If you can’t find anything about your map online and need a professional to help, we offer an informal assessment for $35 in which we do additional research with our dealer resources. We can give you information about the map and its value, including how to sell it, but we cannot purchase a map that we have assessed because that would be a conflict of interest. We can do assessments via email, but we cannot guarantee a map is authentic without seeing it in person.

We also offer a formal appraisal for $75 per hour with a minimum of one hour. This is usually used for insurance purposes, and you would receive a signed appraisal. We need to be able to examine the map in person to complete an appraisal.

Will you sell my maps on consignment?

We do sell some things on consignment, but we have limited space for maps on consignment, so we are particular about what we take to sell on consignment. Please contact us for full details.

How can I sell my maps?

You have many options to consider when looking to sell your maps. You can try contacting map dealers, like Maps of Antiquity, to ask if they have any interest. You can try selling your maps online, such as on eBay. You can bring your maps to an auction house or a local antiques consignment store. If you have a valuable map, you should seek out an auction house that specializes in antique maps. There are also people who offer ebay services where they list your items online in exchange for part of the earnings. You could also donate your maps to a local museum or historical society. If your maps are recent and low value, like 1980s sailing charts in fair to poor condition, you could offer them for free to artists and schools for art projects. There are many options for your old maps and what you choose to do will depend on how much time you want to put into the project, and how much money you want to receive for them.

How do I know if my map is antique? Can I trust all map dealers?

If you are not familiar with antique maps and antique printing and paper, then you might want help determining whether your map is a real antique. One of the best methods is to compare your map to one in a public collection, like the library of congress. Looking carefully at the size, printing, paper, etc. can be a good place to start. Coloring can be different even on two maps that are both genuine. But if your map has the maker and year on it in a font that does not match the map, it may indicate that it is a reproduction. If the map was made prior to the 1820s, it should probably be on laid paper, which can be held up to the light and reveal a pattern in the paper. You can also look at the back of the map- should it have text printed on the back? Should it have a fold with a paper tab where it was bound into the atlas? If the authentic map has those things and yours does not, it could indicate a reproduction. If you turn your map over and the paper on the back is snow white, it is almost certainly a reproduction. If the map is framed, it may be necessary to remove it from the frame in order to properly examine the paper.

It is worth noting that forgery takes a lot of work, time, effort, and expertise. It is unlikely that there are many people trying to trick folks into buying a map that isn't real. If that is happening, it would be only for the most rare and valuable maps- you probably don't need to worry about most maps being a forgery! Many modern reproductions make an effort to make it somewhat obvious that they are reproductions, however there are some from the mid-twentieth century that can be a bit trickier to spot.

Most map dealers are part of a network and can be trusted for information and advice. Dealers may have a few trade secrets, and some might not want to divulge what they know, but most are congenial. If you come across a dealer that you have concerns about, you can google search them- see if they have an online presence, and if so, check reviews. Most dealers are very open and friendly, and with the internet, it is often possible to research the value of a map so that you will know when you go into a transaction the appropriate price.