Why digital technology will make vintage road maps worth preserving

These days, with the spread of GPS technology and sat nav devices fitted in most cars and lorries it is almost impossible to get lost.

So how will the slow death of neatly folded detailed maps change the way we appreciate and cherish them?

Map of Kent Source: Charterhouse Auctioneers

Rare and antiquated maps have always held a fascination for collectors. As modern maps fade from view what direction should map lovers and collectors take? Map collectors will no doubt be sensing an opportunity. Perhaps there’s an opening for you to join those who have dedicated their lives to collecting and trading maps.

Most modern maps generally have a practical shelf life of 20 to 50 years. A couple of generations down the line and a map of any city will start to look dated. The natural reaction is to reproduce and upgrade a printed map but with digital technology everywhere that might not be the direction of travel.

For those in the collecting zone, paper maps that slowly become obsolete and rare, will still have an appeal and not just in terms of nostalgia. Some are likely to become very valuable.

US garage maps worth money

In the USA for example vintage road maps are popular among collectors. Some maps, known as garage maps were often sold on famous highways like Route 66 back in the early days of American gas guzzler autos. They are fetching excellent dollar prices but that could change quickly.

Maps had the wow factor round the world

 Map of Kent Source: Charterhouse Auctioneers

Maps proved their worth to collectors

George Holtby, resident maps expert at Charterhouse Auctioneers in Dorset, were delighted with the results of a recent map sale. The valuers hit the spot with their predictions.

George said: "We had room bidders, phone bidders and internet bidders, from the UK and from around the world. There were bids flashing up on our screens from Europe, Israel, China and Australia. It was quite exciting."

A map of Kent sold for £550 ( valued at £300-£500); a map of Lancashire sold for £320 (valued at £150-550); and a map of northern Europe was knocked down at £400 ( valued at £400 -500).

But top of the lots was a British Isles map by John Speed entitled The Kingdome of Great Britaine and Ireland, with vignettes of London and Edynburgh

This was knocked down at an amazing £820 against an estimated value of £300-500!


If you were thinking of starting a map collection focused on either contemporary or antique maps look-out for sale room auctions. Pop along and view them close-up and learn to lose yourself in their beauty.


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