Words by:
William Gregory MRICS
Featured in:
September 2013

Golding Young and Mawer Auctioneers and Valuers
The market for topographical pictures has grown over the last few years. With the aid of internet catalogues and live bidding, buyers have been able to source pictures for their collections.

The bases for most collections appears to be historical interest and nostalgia. Early pictures of Hong Kong Harbour and South America coastal scenes exceeded all expectations in our last Fine Art auction. This interest appears to have reignited the map market, which had fallen away in the 1990s due to changing fashions and the number of reproduction maps on the market.

The printing of maps expanded in the mid sixteenth century with the development of engraving plates. These were usually copper and hand cut with a fine chisel. The plate normally allowed for several hundred copies to be made before it became worn, and the image faded after which the plate was often copied or repaired. This allows collectors to date different editions. The prints were then coloured for decorative effect and this again allows collectors to define different styles and influences.

The map markers themselves appeal to collectors. John Speed is possibly the most familiar. Born in 1552, Speed produced a series of maps of the individual counties of England and Wales. Others working at the same time included Christopher Saxton and the Dutch cartographer Johannes Blaeu. Later Robert Morden working in the late seventeenth century produced maps of the British Isles. These maps have been reissued throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The illustrations show a selection of maps which were recently sold at the Grantham auction rooms of Golding Young and Mawer.

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