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World Maps

Antique maps of the world are loved by collectors for their fantasy-like representations and quaint mistakes. All hand-drawn maps prior to the rise of the printing press were works of art in some way. They are subjective in nature, servants to the whims of the artisan.

The first world maps were created in monasteries. These works were almost always religious, sometimes disturbing, and tilted to the perspective of the artist or commissioner. Many maps made by monks featured Jerusalem at the center, with the rest of the world shrinking back in adulation and fear from the Holy Land. Landmasses were surrounded and crowned by flying angels and ludicrous demons. Maps could be slanted to please the person who commissioned them, and collectors of antique maps of the world may find political boundaries rearranged to please the person in power.

During the Age of Exploration, mapmaking became a popular and respected trade. Still, many representations were based on the stories of explorers visiting unknown lands in the Orient who often did not trespass beyond the coastline of unknown lands. European artisans marked the borders of the safe, known world with depictions of sea monsters and cannibals. As trade and exploration opened up, mapmakers began to focus on the mathematical correction of geographic zones, although many lands were still disproportionate. It is the idiosyncrasies of maps from various stages of learning and exploration that make antique maps fascinating.


Quick Facts

  • A 1596 twin-hemisphere map by Jan Baptist Vrients titled "Orbis Terrae Compendiosa Descriptio" sold for $13,427 at Bonhams in 2014
  • A map with landmass in the shape of a lion surrounded by sailing ships and crowned by angels titled "Leo Belgicus" sold for $25,054 at Sotheby’s in 2015. The map is one of two printed from copper plates engraved by Hessel Gerritsz, mapmaker for the Dutch East India Company
  • A 1610 atlas by Gerard Mercator and Hondius featuring 145 of 147 engraved maps sold for $50,109 at an auction by Sotheby’s in 2015

Recommended Items at Auction

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A World Map
Feb 27, 10:00 AM CET
A World Map
by Veilinghuis de Jager
Est: €300- €600
€4505 Bids
World Map Haldingham fasc
Feb 25, 10:00 AM AEDT
World Map Haldingham fasc
by Sydney Rare Book Auctions
Est: AUD80- AUD120
AUD704 Bids
Vintage Old Blue World Map Canvas Reproduction Print
Mar 19, 9:00 PM EDT
Vintage Old Blue World Map Canvas Reproduction Print
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $250- $350
$1600 Bids
Vintage Style World Map Canvas Reproduction Print
Mar 19, 9:00 PM EDT
Vintage Style World Map Canvas Reproduction Print
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $350- $500
$2200 Bids
Antique Style World Map Canvas Reproduction Print
Mar 19, 9:00 PM EDT
Antique Style World Map Canvas Reproduction Print
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $200- $300
$1500 Bids
Timezone Map of The World Canvas Reproduction Print
Mar 19, 9:00 PM EDT
Timezone Map of The World Canvas Reproduction Print
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $250- $350
$1800 Bids
Vintage Map Of The World Canvas Reproduction Print
Mar 19, 9:00 PM EDT
Vintage Map Of The World Canvas Reproduction Print
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $350- $500
$2200 Bids
CRAMS MAP OF THE WORLD AND UNITED STATES
Mar 04, 6:00 PM EST
CRAMS MAP OF THE WORLD AND UNITED STATES
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids
450 Sammelbilder Berliner Morgenpost 1926-1939
Mar 02, 9:30 AM CET
450 Sammelbilder Berliner Morgenpost 1926-1939
by Berliner Auktionshaus GmbH & Co. KG
Est: €0- €0
€350 Bids
VINTAGE PULL DOWN CLASSROOM MAP 1966
Mar 01, 12:00 PM EST
VINTAGE PULL DOWN CLASSROOM MAP 1966
by Converse Auctions
Est: $20- $40
$100 Bids
4 grosse Weltatlanten 1936-1963
Mar 02, 9:30 AM CET
4 grosse Weltatlanten 1936-1963
by Berliner Auktionshaus GmbH & Co. KG
Est: €0- €0
€600 Bids
World Map
Feb 25, 10:00 AM EST
World Map
by Bruce Teleky Inc.
Est: $40- $50
$200 Bids
World. Allen (William), Untitled Map of the World, Dublin circa 1820
Mar 06, 10:00 AM GMT
World. Allen (William), Untitled Map of the World, Dublin circa 1820
by Dominic Winter Auctions
Est: £1,000- £1,500
£1,0000 Bids
MAPS, World & Continents, Bossuet
Mar 12, 3:00 PM EDT
MAPS, World & Continents, Bossuet
by Old World Auctions
Est: $550- $700
$4000 Bids
MAP, World, Fer
Mar 12, 3:00 PM EDT
MAP, World, Fer
by Old World Auctions
Est: $400- $475
$2500 Bids
MAP, World, Doppelmayr
Mar 12, 3:00 PM EDT
MAP, World, Doppelmayr
by Old World Auctions
Est: $600- $750
$4000 Bids
MAP, World, Fer
Mar 12, 3:00 PM EDT
MAP, World, Fer
by Old World Auctions
Est: $160- $190
$1000 Bids
MAP, World, Bankes
Mar 12, 3:00 PM EDT
MAP, World, Bankes
by Old World Auctions
Est: $350- $425
$2000 Bids
MAP, World, Baschlin
Mar 12, 3:00 PM EDT
MAP, World, Baschlin
by Old World Auctions
Est: $400- $475
$2300 Bids
MAP, Ancient World, Bachiene
Mar 12, 3:00 PM EDT
MAP, Ancient World, Bachiene
by Old World Auctions
Est: $275- $350
$1500 Bids
MAP, World, Gravius
Mar 12, 3:00 PM EDT
MAP, World, Gravius
by Old World Auctions
Est: $200- $230
$1200 Bids
Mitchell - A New Map of the World on the Globular Projection
Mar 02, 10:00 AM CST
Mitchell - A New Map of the World on the Globular Projection
by Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books
Est: $300- $600
$750 Bids

Sellers Who Sell World Maps


Old World Auctions

Old World Auctions

Weatherham Estate Treasures

Weatherham Estate Treasures

Berliner Auktionshaus GmbH & Co. KG

Berliner Auktionshaus GmbH & Co. KG

Dominic Winter Auctions

Dominic Winter Auctions