古董地圖尋 — Antique map treasure hunt
For many people, the word map means simply google map which guides us to find a location. However according to map expert Daniel, maps have a long history. Maps are not only for finding locations, but they are also exceptional works of art and history.
The article unveils Daniel’s journey as a map expert and his expert views on map collecting in a Q&A format. There is also a sidebar story about China being the world’s biggest art market, followed by USA and UK. The article also features images of Daniel’s gallery in London and a 1477 Ptolemy map as well as Daniel’s website.
What are the attractions of antique maps?
I think maps appeal to people’s sense of place. This can be come from affection for the region that they are from, a reminder of where they have been, or where they live now: If you can show someone their house on a piece of paper over 100 years old, they can seldom resist buying it! With an increasingly mobile population, I believe people have a greater understanding of the layout of the world than previously and so appreciate its representation on a map more than ever.
Among the maps you have dealt with, which map has the longest history?
A fragment of a manuscript working sea chart from 1380 drawn on a piece of vellum (goat’s skin). It was found by a colleague of mine hidden as a binding on a fifteenth century missal. I also currently have an example of the first printed map: the circular world map from the Rudimentum Novitiorum of 1475.
Among your deals, which map is the most valuable?
I was responsible for the sale of both the first and second most expensive atlas ever sold: the 1477 “Bologna Ptolemy” for £2.14m in 2007, and the “Doria Atlas” for £1.5m in 2005, as well as the (then) second (now fourth) most expensive printed map ever sold: the 1602 “Ricci” map, which he sold for $1m in 2009.
Why people invest in maps?
The main reason for collecting maps has to be an appreciation for their remarkable historic and aesthetic value. I also believe that, in comparison to the rest of the art world, there are still many treasures to uncover and the material is relatively undervalued. In what other part of the market can one still obtain museum-quality and historically important works? Even the wealthiest collectors of old master or impressionist paintings, Chinese ceramics, or modern art can never hope to have holdings of a quality to match the likes of the Louvre, the British Museum, or the Met, and yet I have several items in my stock that are at least as good, if not better, than the equivalent examples in, say, the Bibliotheque Nationale, the British Library, or Library of Congress. Further, for the price of a single mediocre impressionist painting, one can obtain a truly world class collection of atlases, and it is also possible to buy an historically important and beautiful maps for just a few hundred pounds: even the wealthiest customers enjoy picking up a few inexpensive additions to their collection.
For the investor, the financial prospects of rare map collecting are promising; while maps have been somewhat ignored in comparison to their artistic counterparts in the past, more recently the number of collectors has started to grow. With a limited supply of antique maps on the market, the potential for an increase in value is an obvious analysis. There have also been a significant number of people turning to invest in books and maps in an attempt to balance their investment portfolio in a backlash against the recession and volatile stock market.
What maps and atlases should I buy?
Maps that hold meaning for you. The best collections are those that are focused on a country, a region, a period or a style. Also, in my experience, the maps that hold their value best are those of the highest quality. For me, I am an obsessive collector of maps of Oxford and Oxforshire.
What are the risks in investing in maps?
Apart from total disasters such as buying a fake, or a stolen map, the main potential problem for an investor stems from overcoming the initial transaction costs: while you only pay a small percentage to buy stocks and shares, a typical auction house will take over 35% when you combine both the commission and the buyer’s premium.