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Mar 17, 2007

Market for 19th Century Maps Strengthening?

Old World Auctions announced the results of it's recently concluded auction of old maps. The online map auction site's top sale was a Colonial-era map of New England by Dutch cartographers Hugo and Carolus Allard.

Executed about 1680, the rare map commemorated the Dutch recapture of New York, and is one of the earliest depictions of the wall, from which Wall Street gets its name. It sold for $12,320 to a Dutch collector.

What I found intriguing was the company's report that many 19th century maps sold for much more than past estimates. Previously, maps of this era had been ignored by many collectors as “too new.”


  • An 1870 map of Illinois by George Cram went for $2,240, far more than the firm's estimate of $180 - $220.
  • An 1883 railroad map from Rand McNally, titled “Iron Mountain Route to Arkansas, Texas and California,” (depicted above) brought $476;
  • A rare 1878 railroad map illustrating the route from Kansas City to Denver, saw strong bidding at $896.
“It was typical for prices to sail past the high estimates,” Diane Kelly of Old World Auctions said. “It really illustrates the strength of the map collecting genre. It's small but growing, and now is a good time to jump in. You can still find excellent buys.”

Now obviously, Ms. Kelly might be just a little bit biased, working for a map auction company. However, she just might be right. If you appreciate old maps, now might be a good time to pick up a few. So get out to those garage sales, flea markets, and antique malls and start hunting.

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