Beginner’s Guide: Map Collecting Reference Books

Once a new collector catches the bug he always wants to learn about his subject. Unfortunately, being a periodical, MapForum.Com could never produce an in-depth study in one issue, so we have compiled a short list of reference books that give a good outline view of antiquarian maps.  We have divided them into two types, those written by academics and those by dealers. The academic ones tend to be more thorough, but have descriptions of maps deep in a museum’s collection. The dealers write from their experiences with their own stock, so their examples are more likely to acquirable.

Few on the list are still being published: books with such a specialist interest tend to have a short shelf life. However most are easily available from map dealers. Some have been reprinted, but we have ignored later editions.

Long Room, Trinity College Dublin, Diliff, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons



The Academics

Allen, PhilipThe Atlas of Atlases
London: Ebury Press, 1988
4to, cloth & illus. d/w; pp. 159, illustrated throughout.History of mapping, using the atlases from the Cadbury Collection, Birmingham Central Library. Beautifully illustrated.
Bagrow, LeoHistory of Cartography
London: C.A.Watts, 1964
Large 8vo, cloth & d/w; pp.312, 21 colour plates + 116 b&w.Edited by R.A. Skelton. Very academic work, well-illustrated, featuring many rarities.  Unusual for including discussion of non-western European materials.
Campbell, TonyEarly Maps
New York: Abbeville Press 1981
Folio, cloth & d/w;
pp. 148, illus.
Scholarly account, with much about manuscripts, by the Map Librarian of the British Library. Again well-illustrated.
Goss, JohnThe Mapmaker’s Art
London: Studio Editions, 1993
Large 4to, cloth & d/w; pp. 376, illus.The largest book here, a wide-ranging survey, with very readable text. Well illustrated.
Skelton, R.A.Decorative Printed Maps of the 15th
to the 18th Centuries
London, Staples Press, 1952
4to, cloth & d/w; pp. viii + 80, 86 plates.
An influential book, written around the plates. With introductory text, and then commentary on the plates. 

The Dealers

Baynton-Williams, RogerInvesting in Maps
London: Barrie & Rockliffe, 1969
4to, cloth & d/w; pp. 160, illus.With short biographical dictionary. Unfortunately quotes 1960s pricing. Long overdue for a new edition.
Manasek, FrankCollecting Old
Vermont: Terra
Nova Press, 1998
Large 8vo, cloth & d/w; pp. xii + 15-314, illus.A general introduction, then descriptions of 130 maps in detail. with short biographies & glossary. 
Moreland, Carl &
Bannister, David
Antique Maps: A Collector’s Handbook
London: Longman, 1983
8vo, cloth & d/w; pp. 314, illus.Frequently re-issued, with very useful potted biographies of principal figures.
Potter, JonathanCountry Life Book
of Antique Maps
London: Country Life, 1988.
4to, cloth &
d/w; pp. 192, illus.
With sections on each part of the world. Well-illustrated
Tooley, R.V.Maps and Mapmakers
London, Batsford, 1949
8vo, cloth & d/w; pp.xii + 140, illus.General book from the most prolific cartographical writer, sadly suffering from lack of colour illustrations, even in later editions
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