Fashion Plate Of A 19Th Century Hand Coin Bag How to Spot a Fake Antique Map From an Authentic Antique Map

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How to Spot a Fake Antique Map From an Authentic Antique Map

Very popular antique maps fetch very high prices on the auction block. This is due to the emergence of many forgeries, as well as numerous copies of these maps. A copy of a map is worth nothing, no matter what the seller tells you. Here are some tips to help you distinguish between fake antique maps and real antique maps.

First, let’s talk about copying, forging, and duplicating old maps. Cartographers have copied and improved each other’s maps for centuries. These old maps can be valuable because they were made when the information was valid and useful. They are genuine historical documents.

However, recent copies of old maps depicting centuries-old geographic information are made with the intention of providing embellishment and sometimes historical insight to the purchaser. The value of the map is often sold to unknowing customers by claiming that the copy is a rare map or was produced using fancy printing techniques. A copy of a map is not rare, it is the original map that is rare. Copies are worthless and the same goes for fancy prints.

There are several ways to spot fake old maps.

1. Prior to the 1850s, color maps were hand-painted. Look closely at the colors with a magnifying glass. If you see a matrix of small overlapping dots, then the map was made after the 1900s. For example, your map might say it’s from the 1600s, but the presence of these dots means it wasn’t made until after the 1900s.

2. Old maps were mostly carved inside out on metal plates so that they could be printed. The pressure from the printing press and its engraved plates on the paper leaves “plate marks” or dents around the map. If you have plate marks on your map, take a good look around to see if there is anything printed beyond the plate marks. Any print that spills out of the plate mark is a fake.

3. Hold the map up to the light and look at the paper. Most maps made before the 1820s were made on handmade paper. This paper was made by artisans who use wire mesh to hold the paper pulp. This wire mesh leaves visible grids called “chain links” that are visible to strong light sources. Paper makers often had watermarks to identify themselves. This may appear on a larger map. Where maps dated before the 1820s do not have chain links, there are map facsimiles.

4. Most of the antique maps are taken from old atlases. Because of this, maps often have a crease in the middle. This fold is where the map was bound in the book. Also, the atlas map is worn from use in the corners, especially in the upper right or lower right corners. This is where most people turn pages. If your map doesn’t have a center crease or looks too new, it probably is.

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