Currency Exchange


to improve your enjoyment of this Antique Print Club website and to increase your appreciation of items that catch your interest, we are continually researching for our Library of light lectures, discerning descriptions, fascinating facts and pertinent pithy little paragraphs. Perhaps you will be 'bitten by the bug' of collecting antique maps and prints. Our website Blogs are overviews of different subjects, to enrich your enjoyment of these early graphics. If you live in Australia, our larger articles on antique prints and antique maps are in the Antiques & Collectables magazine (with newsagents at the beginning of each season).

Antique Print Club LIBRARY has a glossary of terms used in the description of antique maps and prints, an explanation of the term 'original antique print', information to help you describe and identify antique maps and prints, an explanation of printing processes that were used hundreds of years ago to produce antique prints and maps, and information about some of the more important map-makers (cartographers), engravers, artists and publishers, who by combining art, science and technology have contributed so much to our knowledge of earlier times.

Original Print is not a contradictory description. A print is the process of making more than one image after applying ink to a carved or drawn outline on a printing plate. Original prints were 'pulled' from the original engraved or lithographed plate, at the time of original publicationAntique print means the image and paper are both over one hundred years old - and may even be four hundred years old. It is extremely rare to find them older, unless viewing them in an institution. Considering the vulnerability of paper, it is amazing that antique maps and antique prints have survived. It is testament to their appreciation over the centuries. The most generic methods of producing antique prints and maps are engraving and lithography.

It is usually not possible to know how many of each print were 'pulled' or 'struck' so many years ago. Some more important works such as atlases and portfolios included a list of subscribers when originally published. In these cases this is the minimum number of original prints that were produced - but insolvency of the publisher or withdrawal of subscribers could result in fewer prints being published. (In the case of etchings, one or more ' proof plates'  were often produced to test the quality of the work being done.) Wealthy or scientific subscribers often assisted with funding for a journey of discovery and sourcing of the information, and/or the cost of engraving or lithography, colouring, and other publication expenses. When the sponsor was royalty or someone else of great importance to the project, they were usually presented with a more elaborate edition of the work. Centuries ago, the Frontispiece was used to describe the collection of works being published. It often incorporated allegorical illustration and was an intricately engraved page with titles, naming those responsible for the work therein, and often a tribute to the sponsor. Frontispieces are consequently quite a collectable item in themselves.

Poor condition can decrease the value of artwork.
As a rule, this is indeed the case. It makes sense, doesn't it? Despite this, from our experiences, in at least one part of the world we know that some people would pay more for damaged or soiled antique artwork, rather than antique prints in good condition - so that their friends will know that they have really old, genuine, original, antique prints on their wall. For them, old and foxed antique prints are more desirable than those that have been revered and maintained in pristine condition.

Although made from the same printing plate at the same date, two original prints of an image can be discernably different. The amount of ink pressed from the carved grooves of the plate varied, resulting in varying definition of an engraving. This also resulted from the condition of the 'plate' which would deteriorate from pressure during printing (to a varying degree depending on the material used in the plate). If hand-coloured, the depth or tone of colour differed slightly, or there might have been an errant brush-mark on the image. In addition to these factors, since the time of publication, each image from a print run will have been treated differently. The paper may have been damp, soiled, creased, torn, eaten, or simply age-discoloured. The engraving ink may have been smudged, or the colour may have faded because of excessive exposure to light. Condition will affect the value of each separate image. If an early image is extremely rare, important historically and in demand, poor condition does not affect the value so much.

Collecting.. or simply appreciating what you see.
Original antique prints provide an exclusive, rare and unusual collection item. The majority of the population are unaware they exist!  Undoubtedly, the wide variety of subjects guarantees a potential for anyone to become absorbed in antique prints and maps. The fascination lies not only in the intricate and painstaking way the artwork was created, but also in the sometimes inaccurate interpretation of the subject involved. On an antique map, a wrongly engraved coastline could be the result of an inaccurate transfer from the sketch, or even a fanciful engraver, and not the result of poor charting or navigation - particularly when an engraver tried to 'remember' recent discoveries he heard or saw recorded - perhaps with a previous employer.. An antique print of a strangely-shaped animal, could have been because the engraver considered his version to be more likely than the sketch by an artist who might have been challenged by time and conditions, - particularly when confronted by animals unlike any with which he was familiar. When skins of animals were sent to Europe from around the world they were sometimes stuffed for an artist to draw - leading to many inaccurate representations and engraved oddities!

Interest in a particular subject matter does not always guarantee happy collectors unfortunately. The most desirable result comes with the ability to purchase from a reputable dealer who not only is sympathetic to the interests and knowledge of the buyers, but is also able and willing to provide relevant information. While familiarity with the specialized field of antique prints is not a pre-purchase requirement, appreciation and enjoyment are certainly enhanced by a greater understanding and some knowledge of where, why or how they were published.

Conservation framing, sometimes referred to as 'acid-free' framing.
Print collecting can be an addictive hobby. But whether you buy a gift, or begin collecting for yourself, ensure you conserve your chosen artwork so that it survives another hundred years. It would be a shame if your treasures remain tucked away out of sight in a drawer, but if they are, make sure they are protected from the damp and are enclosed by conservation materials. When framing artwork, make sure you specify rag-mat support boards for your treasure (sometimes referred to as 'acid-free' and passepartout) - and don't forget museum glass will block out damaging ultra-violet rays that cause fading, colour change, and deterioration of the paper - particularly if your artwork will be displayed in a brightly lit environment. Your enjoyment of the artwork remaining in the condition you bought it, will definitely justify any additional cost of conservation-quality framing, rather than cheaper wood-pulp products against your antique prints and maps. If you've bought wisely, the value of your pictures can appreciate while you appreciate their beauty. Conservation framing was not available over 30 years ago. It might be worth asking a conservation picture framer to change the damaging materials to prevent further deterioration.. 

Choice of antique maps and prints is limitless.
Costing from as little as $10, you will find a wonderful choice of genuine, original, antique prints and antique maps on this website. We have many thousands of more - still to be scanned and listed. We add to our website regularly, so let us know your interest and we'll give priority to items that might be of interest to you.

If you prefer to see the actual artwork before buying, and you are anywhere near Brisbane Antique Emporium in Clayfield, thousands are available from there: Open seven days a week from 10am and 5pm. And, we guarantee that all purchases from our website are as described.
If we can be of further assistance, please email us at or phone +61 (0)412 442 283.