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Maps of Russia feature accounts of the wars, revolutions, periods of peace, and political ideology that characterizes Russia. Antique and vintage maps of countries like Russia are growing in value because of economic growth and increased travel to and from these countries. Old Russian maps are intriguing historical reminders of the changing face of the region during the 20th century. While antique maps and engravings remain the most desirable among collectors, modern maps of Russia speak of the country’s turbulent history.
Maps of Russia and the Black Sea region were created by many of the most influential mapmakers beginning in the 1500s. One of the earliest obtainable Russian maps was made by Bernadus Sylvanus in Venice in 1511. Printed on two plates back to back, the map was based on Ptolemy’s work with contemporary updates. During the next two centuries, important maps of Russia were made by cartography masters Lorenz Fries, Jan Jansson, Sebastien Munster, Joducus Hondius, and Willem Blaeu. Abraham Ortelius drew "Russiae, Moscoviae et Tartariae Descriptio" in 1562. This colorful work is filled with representations of nomadic and indigenous life, animals, and mythological scenes which the engraver created based on Marco Polo’s travels. These early engraved maps are some of the most valuable.
The political structure of Russia has experienced significant change in the last century, and maps of the area showing changing borders are an important historical resource for scholars. All maps of areas ceded to the Soviet Union of a certain scale were confiscated by the Soviet Union in 1944, with around 16 million maps and aerial photographs kept out of circulation until 1989. The fall of communism and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 opened access to the history of this fascinating region.
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