Which factors determine a map’s price?
As you will see from our website, maps can range in price from a few hundred euros to many thousands. So what determines the price of a map? The answer is that there is no single factor but a combination of relative comparables. Even across the market, that there are no “set” prices for specific maps as each is dependent on variable factors which include:
Rarity is the key factor. Some maps were simply produced in higher quantities than others. Some maps happen to have a higher survival rate through the centuries than others. Finally, some maps are more collected by public or official institutions (museums, libraries, universities, municipalities, etc…), other more sought after by private purchasers. The maps held by official institutions are less likely to be offered on the public market. This affects the scarcity
- The condition of the paper and of the map
Paper is a product of nature. The quality (strength) of the paper may vary considerably. Over the centuries browning of the paper may occur. Moreover, many maps have expected to have small defects, such is the nature of old, delicate items, but maps with serious defects should be avoided.
- The mapmaker
Mapmakers may be renowned for producing particularly fine and decorative cartography, or for a unique style or attention to detail. Other mapmakers have limited their production to copying maps of colleagues.
- The region shown
Certain cities, regions or countries are more sought-after than others. Moreover, some regions are more popular than others: Ortelius maps of Provence are more commercial than his maps of Picardy or Poitou.
- The age of the map
Older maps tend to be more decorative and less detailed than later, more utilitarian productions. However, detailed (albeit less elaborate) maps may be preferred for their precision and informative content.
- The appearance
A very important issue: is the map attractive? Are the colors fine and is the painting well done. Most maps with color were originally printed black and white and have had color added by hand – perhaps at, or around, the time of publication (usually termed old, or original, color), or they may have been colored at any time since, including recently. General consensus is that modern color, providing well applied in the correct style, is acceptable.
And so, a nice example of a map may be cheap at 5.000 euros, while a poor example may be overpriced at 2.500 euros.
In the end, it is quite simple: do you like the map offered at a certain price. Does it appeal to you, taking all above factors into consideration?