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Collectible Antique Maps

Updated on June 23, 2018

As you may already know - I LOVE maps. I've said it before. I also love history and one reason why I love antique maps, is because they show exactly how people perceived their world in the past. Like other antiques, Antique maps can be used to decorate a home with an appreciating assets (if they are originals). They provide old world charm and add warmth to a room.

There is a certain amount of nostalgia about maps that attracts everyone. If you put a globe in a room, chances are 80% to 90% of the people that will come into that room will be drawn to the globe at some point. Antique maps and globes provide us with endless possibilities of places to visits and hint of the mysteries of our huge world.

So this lens will be a quick history of maps from ancient times to the present.

Why I don't use BC and AD

Now, some of you might also be wondering why I do not use BC and AD in my dates . Since I am no longer religious (and believe me, I was raised in a very religious family and was not permitted to leave the church until I was 19 years old), I don't like using anything referring to religion and BC and AD are both religious references. So I use the neutral dating system. BCE means Before the Common Era and CE means the Common Era.

The Nippur Map - 1400 BCE

The oldest known map ever found.

The University of Pennsylvania was excavating in Nippur (Iraq) from 1889 until 1900 and during that time they discovered thousands of clay tablets. This map may have been discovered at that time, but its importance was not recognized until quite some time later.

Photo source - University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

This artifact was on loan until 2008 to the Beijing World Art Museum for their rotating exhibit on Great Civilizations.

Babylonian Map - 600 BCE

This artifact was discovered in Iraq close to the Euphrates river in the late 1800s and first published (or written about) in 1899. It has been dated to around 600 BCE. This was the oldest known map for several decades until the Nippur map (see above) was finally published. The Babylonian Map is currently in the British Museum.

Erastosthenes' World Map 194 BCE

Eratosthenes' map of the world, originally dated approximately 194 BCE. Erastosthenes was also the man who figured out the size of the Earth by using the noon sun on the day of the summer equinox to measure shadows at both Syene and at Alexandria.

Claudius Ptolemy's World Map 150 CE

Claudius Ptolemy was a geographer, an astronomer and a mapmaker from Alexandria in Egypt. He was born around 90 CE and died in 168 CE. This version was actually a woodcut made in 1427 CE and is the earliest surviving known version of Ptolemy's map which was originally made in 150 CE.

Ptolemy also wrote the Cosmographia - a book with lists of stars with names and brightness levels (called magnitudes) - a scale that Ptolemy himself created and I believe is still used today.

Hereford Mappa Mundi 1300 CE


This is one of the earliest T-O maps still surviving. It was made around 1300 CE and can be seen at the Hereford Castle in Hereford, England, UK

Catalan Atlas 1375 CE

The above portolan map is part of the Catalan Atlas that was created in 1375 CE by one Abraham Cresques from Catalonia. The full original map can be seen here.

The earliest known surviving portolan map is the Carta Pisana which was made around 1275 to 1300 CE.

More about Catalan Maps - Wikipedia

Martellus Map 1490 CE

World map of Henricus Martellus Germanus (Heinrich Hammer) made around 1490 CE

Piri Reis Map 1513 CE

This is a portolan map created by a Turkish Naval admiral named Piri Reis in 1513 CE. It is a very controversial map because the experts cannot decide if the land shown at the bottom is the Antarctica or whether it is just part of South America. The significance of this is that the Antarctica was not actually discovered and mapped until 1818 CE.

Mercator Map 1569 CE

The first ever map made with a projection that helped with navigation. Published by Gerhardus Mercator in 1569 CE. The Mercator Projection has been an essential part of cartography now, for over 400 years

Mercator's Polar Projection Map 1595 CE

Septentrionalium Terrarum descriptio - This map was published in 1595 by Rumold Mercator - son of Gerhardus Mercator (who had died in 1594).

Upside Down World Map 1979 CE

This Upside Down Map was first published in 1979. There are some places on this planet where people do grow up with a slightly different world view you know - including me!! LOL

The future of Cartography and Map Making - Mapping the galaxy.

Stellar Cartography - Star Trek Generations
Stellar Cartography - Star Trek Generations

One of my most favourite scenes in all the Star Trek movies is this one from Star Trek Generations (1994).

This scene involves Captain Picard having to discover where the Nexus is going to show up next. He orders Data to plot the projected course of the Nexus Ribbon through the galaxy - and this is done in the Stellar Cartography Department.

This scene could easily be the future of cartography. Once we have mapped our planet and the solar system, humanity will then spread out to map the galaxy.

Eyes on the Solar System from NASA

Come on - Don't be Shy - Say Something - Please

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    • profile image

      Trish S., Jersey City NJ 

      3 years ago

      So you are my twin map, history geek, nonreligious BCE/CE user. My pleasure.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I would have read the rest an looked but it's so sad the first thing I read was non religious smh don't even have bc ad

      So their basically junk

    • Ed Mulrenan profile image

      Ed Mulrenan 

      5 years ago from Waterbury, Connecticut

      AD and BC is the only proper term. Christians Catholic scribes brought many ancient works -maps into the modern world. They scribes-monks copied others like the Vineland maps etc.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      These are fascinating, and tell so much about our history and ancestors.

    • cjbmeb14 lm profile image

      cjbmeb14 lm 

      7 years ago

      Amazing maps you have here.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image


      7 years ago

      My bachelor degree is in cartography. Needless to say, I'm a fan.

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 

      7 years ago

      I LOVE maps, too! You have some great maps here. Thanks for sharing!

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 

      7 years ago

      these are incredible, thank you for sharing!

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 

      8 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Wow. Nice lens. I grew up with maps ... my folks would throw us kids (my sis and me) into their Country Squire station wagon every summer as soon as the last school bell before vacation rang, and we'd drive from New Mexico to Pennsylvania and a bunch of the east coast before driving west again to Montana and then driving south to home in New Mexico just in time for school to start again. And they'd assign "navigator duties" to my sis and me sometimes--so I really learned to read maps from an early age. Then, we moved across the world to Guam... where "road maps" didn't really help finding our "addresses" in the boonies... so my sis and I learned to draw our own crude maps that described where the mountains and ocean were in relation to where our house was "... turn left at the breadfruit tree, then right at the coconut grove, then left at the bananas... then right when you see the beach. We're in the quonset hut on the end of the beach." :-) Congrats on a Squidoo masterpiece!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      What a lens! I wish I could come up with this idea!

    • frances lm profile image

      frances lm 

      8 years ago

      Beautiful and fascinating. Loved looking at those maps.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love the antique maps and maps in general in fact my mouse pad is a "magellan era" map. I will visiting here again

    • TeacherSerenia profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @TravelingRae: Backwards day? Is this a wacky holiday? I learnt something new today.

    • TeacherSerenia profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @TravelingRae: You always do a Leonardo when you leave a comment? Thanks for the blessing. LOL

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      !yaD sdrawkcaB no desselB !oot yhpargotrac evol I !snel ylevoL

    • TeacherSerenia profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Inkhand: None of the maps I have are antiques. They are all reproductions.

    • Inkhand profile image


      8 years ago

      An interesting lens. Antique maps are valuable collectable items, if you have it at home, you should store it safely and try to preserve it in good condition.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Yes Cartography like Star Trek would be So Awesome!!!! :)

    • CruiseReady profile image


      8 years ago from East Central Florida

      NOW I see why you had such an interest in that map in the great ship's formal dining room! The maps on this page are just stunning.

      My husband... now many years retired ... was a cartographer, but his work was not as exciting as that of the people who drew the maps on this page. His maps were of underground reserves and deposits for oil and mining companies.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      8 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      These are really cool maps! I like the old ones because of their artistic appeal, but my kiddos love new interactive ones on the computer.

    • TeacherSerenia profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @flowski lm: YEs - I know the feeling. If I were to ask a kid in New Zealand where Mt Egmont is, they would all go HUH? They know it as Mt Taranaki, but I grew up calling it Mt Egmont....

    • profile image

      flowski lm 

      8 years ago

      I too love old maps. I once found an old map at a flea market in Colorado which had an entirely different name for one of my favorite mountains and I liked it better than the new name they called it today. I always refer it by the name on the old map now!

    • SquidooPower profile image


      8 years ago

      I have a map room in my house in AZ, that's right, an entire room dedicated to maps so this lens holds a special place for me. Thank you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      ...and blessed...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is gloriously fascinating....your love for ancient maps is extended to all who visit!

    • oxfordian profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, do I ever love this lens!! I'm a history buff too (I actually have one of my undergraduate degrees in history) and, while I've always loved maps, I really got into them when I was doing oxfordian-Shakespeare research. I have some incredible giant books on antique maps.

      I heard about the McArthur map before and the argument that the common representation of the world map is largely political -- that the proportion is actually more accurately represented in McArthur's map. I'm inspired now to go look it up and learn more about it.

      p.s. It's nice to see another historian use BCE and CE. I do too. Kudos!! Great lens!!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I also find ancient maps fascinating, and the Piri Reis map is intriguing indeed. Does it show land that was not supposed to have been discovered by Europeans at that time? It is also supposed to be a copy of a much older map.

      Have you read any books by Zecharia Sitchin? (I have a lens). He has translated and interpreted many texts from ancient civilizations, and there is much evidence that in ancient times there was trade between Egypt and South America. The Vikings were also proven to have visited Newfoundland, so the Columbus voyages were really re-discoveries.

      Nicely done, some great maps and information, blessed.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      fantastic tribute to antique maps, quite pleased to have read this tonight, thank you indeed.

    • TeacherSerenia profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Churchmouse LM: Yep - I am a Kiwi from New Zealand

    • Churchmouse LM profile image

      Churchmouse LM 

      8 years ago

      One of the more slightly irreligious reasons I love maps is that they make superb jigsaw puzzles (one of my passions!) And it's a great way to learn about a country too, delving into the details trying to find pieces to fit. And yes, I have seen the upside map too, coming from xnx.... so you must be from around these parts/hemisphere?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Wonderful lens - I love looking at old maps!

    • justholidays profile image


      8 years ago

      Unlike Chris, I'm not a map addict and not really interested in collecting them but I believe that old maps are definitely pieces of art! And would really enjoy having at least one hanged on a wall in the house.

      Blessed for the wonderful examples you posted here and your extended knowledge!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 

      9 years ago

      I am a map-addict - great lens.

    • linhah lm profile image

      Linda Hahn 

      9 years ago from California

      Love these maps.


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