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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 interesting summaries 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 published at the beginning of each season in the quarterly Antiques to Vintage magazine (previously Antiques & Collectables magazine).

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 what are now known as 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. Additional information can be found in the BLOGS.

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 being appreciated 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 elaborately decorated edition of the work. Centuries ago, a 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 remain 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 much coveted, 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 maps and prints. 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. Just as an explorer's journal might be misinterpreted by a publisher (as in the case of James Cook and I'm sure many others) the map showing the navigation might be given a wrongly engraved coastline as a result of an inaccurate transfer from the navigator's records, or the result of an imaginative engraver, and not the result of poor charting or navigation. This was sometimes the case when an engraver tried to 'remember' recent discoveries he had heard or had briefly seen 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 the engraver considered was perhaps challenged by time and conditions when recording it - particularly when the engraver was confronted by animals unlike any with which he was familiar. Hundreds of years ago when skins of animals were sent to Europe from around the world, they were usually stuffed for an artist to draw - leading to many inaccurate representations and engraved oddities - depending on the skill of the taxidermist.

Pursuit of a particular subject 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.
Print collecting can be an addictive hobby. But whether you buy a gift, or begin collecting for yourself, it is preferable to 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 protected from insects by being enclosed within conservation materials. When framing artwork, protect your treasure by specifying rag-mat or at least conservation-standard support boards (sometimes referred to as 'acid-free' and passepartout) - and don't forget conservation-standard 'art' glass to 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 that will bleed into your precious antique artwork.
Conservation framing was not available over 30 years ago. Antique maps and prints that were framed many years ago will often have obvious browning of the edge of the window cut around the artwork, and even specks of brown 'foxing' that have bled into the paper from the support board behind it.  It might be worth asking a conservation-quality picture framer to upgrade any inferior materials in previous framing to prevent further deterioration. The value is not only in your artwork. It is worth recording on the rear of the artwork that you have invested in conservation framing.

Choice of antique maps and prints is limitless.
Costing as little as $20, you can find a wonderful choice of genuine original antique artwork on this website. We have thousands more continually being scanned and listed. Let us know your preferred subject and we'll give priority to items that might be of interest to you. We guarantee that all purchases from our website are as described - and in good condition unless otherwise noted. 
If you prefer to see the actual artwork before buying, you can arrange a visit to Antique Print Club at Neranwood in the Gold Coast hinterland. 

If we can be of further assistance, please email us at or phone +61 (0)412 442 283.