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Antique Central America/Caribbean Maps and Atlases

Antique maps of the Caribbean Islands and Central America offer a colorful glimpse of history for collectors of world culture. Hand-drawn Dominican Republic, Bahamas, and Cuba maps from the 16th to early 20th centuries are just a few of the maps of Spanish territory available. Collectors can pore over the careful artistry of each map, compare changes between maps over time, and hang the maps on walls for guests to enjoy.

How do you choose an antique map?

Choosing a Caribbean Islands and South and Central America map can be daunting due to their wildly differing styles and histories, so consider which aspects of an antique map matter most to you.

  • Place: Some collectors value a specific location such as specific cities, states, and islands more than others, so you may want to research whether maps of Havana are rarer than maps of the Dominican Republic, for example.
  • Time: If you're a history buff, you might want several antique maps of one area so you can study their changes over time. If you're an antique collector, on the other hand, you might favor maps of unusual or important eras.
  • Detail: Maps rich in detail may look busy but provide hours of study, whereas simpler maps may look cleaner but inspire less curiosity.
How should you care for an antique map?

Old Caribbean Islands and Central America antique maps are delicate, so take precautions to avoid tearing, fading, creasing, or staining.

  • Storage: Keep the maps in acid-free drawers or folders, and keep them at a regular temperature.
  • Display: Avoid hanging the maps in sunlight to prevent fading, and have a professional frame them.
  • Handling: Always wash your hands before touching an antique map of any country or region. Avoid binding the artifact with a metallic clip since metal can corrode.
How do you check the authenticity of an antique map?

Expert Caribbean Islands and Central America map collectors can detect fake antique maps with ease, but regular enthusiasts need to be more careful. Keep in mind these factors when trying to locate a real vintage map of the Caribbean or Central America:

  • Color: Since most maps from the 15th to 18th centuries were colorized at the purchaser's request, old-looking coloration suggests authenticity.
  • Style: Subtle artistic choices that belong to a specific era, such as intricate fonts or sea monsters, are hard to fake.
  • Type: Whether the artifact is an atlas map, folding map, nautical chart, or some other type can clue you into its authenticity depending on how common the type was during the map's apparent era.
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