How to Find a Buyer for Antique Maps

By Felicia Greene
an antique nautical chart, navigational compass
antique brass compass over old map image by Nikolay Okhitin from

Antique maps offer a fascinating glimpse into the way oceans, continents and other geographic regions were viewed in the past. According to antique map dealer The Old Map Gallery, several factors affect antique map value: The region shown; the historical significance; size--larger maps usually mean higher value; rarity (this works along with other factors that enhance value); age (the older map among similar maps is valued more highly); and appearance (ships, sea monsters, and other illustrations enhance value).

Get the antique map appraised. Antique maps can be appraised for three purposes: Valuation prior to a sale; valuation for an estate; or valuation for a collector's database. Although informal--and inexpensive--online opinions can be issued from studies of digital photographs, appraisers require in-person examinations to issue a formal appraisal. Visit two online antique map appraisers--listed in Resources--for additional details.

Sell to an antique map store. Located in Denver, Colorado, The Old Map Gallery stocks original antique maps dating back to the 17th century. The company also maintains an online map store featuring antique map catalogs dating back to 2003. The store buys antique maps on a case-by-case basis.

Contact a regional map society. Map societies are comprised of cartography enthusiasts who enjoy studying and collecting maps. Society members may also buy and sell maps through the society. Regional map societies are located throughout the United States.

Take the map to an antique dealer. Although the dealer may not be especially knowledgeable about antique maps, he might have access to experts who are well versed in this specialty field. The dealer can offer you three options: He will buy and market the map; he will pass it on to an expert better equipped to sell it; or he will offer to sell the map on consignment.

Find a buyer at a consignment auction. Old World Auctions is an antique map auction service based in the United States. The service conducts four online auctions per year, and accepts antique maps, globes, cartographic books, and atlases. Information is disseminated to thousands of dealers, institutions, and collectors.