As a friend of mine remarked, I like my antiques "old". You will find that many maps in the Original Antique Maps inventory are in their original condition. As a rule, 19th century maps were published to be working documents. Therefore, curled pages, folds, ink spills and hand written notes on the face of a map are testimony to that map's prior life. Surveyors brought maps into the field, a ship's captain charted the ship's course directly on his chart and craftsmen, such as a gravestone carver might take along a county atlas on his wagon to find the cemetery. Of course, an antique map in excellent condition is always desirable. For different reasons, an antique map that is a survivor has much to offer. Sometimes notes or modifications by a former owner make this example unique and historically noteworthy. When you hold any antique map in your hands, you participate in this history.
Condition of each map will be noted in terms such as excellent, very good, good, fair and where a photograph accompanies the description the intention is to convey the condition with photographic details. As applicable, each map will be described as being in original condition, conserved or restored.
Certain antique maps in the collection have been professionally conserved so the map can be handled and its longevity assured. Some antique maps in the collection have been restored to enhance their condition and their appearance. These are different processes.
Conservation is a professional process to address certain common symptoms of old age that 18th and 19th century paper experiences, such as browning due to acid levels in the paper, or soiling or tears from use, or folding. Conservation deacidifies the paper and often reveals features of the map hidden by years of grime or abuse. Conservation does not add new color, or replace missing imagery or text, or mask earlier stains. Restoration, by contrast is a professional process in which conservation steps are taken and additional work is done to restore the appearance of a world weary map. Original Antique Maps will assist clients in obtaining conservation or restoration services for a map purchased.
Color is a different aspect of an antique map or print. Many were published in black and white. Hand coloring of certain antique American maps was a cottage industry: map publishers hired women who hand colored these maps at home on a piece meal basis. Other antique maps or prints were hand colored by the publisher's staff. And yet other hand colored materials were colored years after publication. The map or print descriptions will note these distinctions.