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What You Need to Know About Antique Map Forgeries

December 30, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 135

Antique map forgeries are very realistic copies of original old maps that attempt to fool a person into believing they are looking at an original. The skills necessary to create such a forgery are not that different from the skills needed to forge currency, but they carry lesser criminal penalties when the crime is discovered.

Forgeries are different from commercial copies and reproductions of old maps because there is a genuine intention to deceive which should not be present with commercial reproductions. The scarcity of some desirable old maps has led to a fairly constant increase in their value. A fair amount of collectors of old maps have supplemented their incomes with the timely sale of maps from their collections. Prices for desirable maps, such as those depicting California as an island or the maps by Ortelius or Speed have gone up dramatically over the years.

The high resale value of some antique maps has led unscrupulous counterfeiters to replicate them. Only certain maps and mapmakers are targeted. Indeed forging antique maps accurately is a costly endeavor. To do the job correctly one needs to recreate the hand-made paper on which the map is printed, engrave a precise replica of the map using old engraving techniques and finally age the map with age appropriate stains. This is no easy task.

The paper must have the same texture as the original and have the specific watermark that existed on the original map. The recreation of this paper is difficult and costly. Many forgeries ignore matching the paper accurately for this reason. In investigating a forgery it is often in the paper that the investigator must start. To discern watermarks and the age of paper is often beyond the expertise of most appraisers. It is important when using an appraiser for expensive maps to have one with vast experience in antique maps and prints.

Secondly, a good forgery will need to depict all the detail from the original map on an engraved metal plate. All detail must be engraved backwards using the specialized tools of engravers. This task is also very expensive, but the engraved metal plate can serve to print hundreds of the copied map. The use of engraving allows to replicate the elements seen on an antique map when using a magnifying glass. Modern digital printing does not stand up to the scrutiny of a close inspection. However good the engraver may be there is most likely to be an error in some of the lines that allows an expert to spot a fake.

Finally, having matched the paper and engraving as closely as possible to the original map the forgery still needs to be aged. It includes creating a fold in the center if necessary, hand-coloring the map using age accurate colors and aging the map. Aging will include adding stains and general wear. The aging is yet another skill that needs to address the tactile and visual tests given by experienced collectors and buyers. The map forgery has to look, feel and even smell "right". is your online art, map and print store in which you can:

LEARN about engravings, etchings and antique art in general by visiting the INFO CENTER on our website COMPARE thousands of original works of art on paper by viewing products and zooming in with our magnifying tool. SHOP for original art, old maps and antique prints at our convenient ecommerce store.

We have thousands of antique prints, old maps and original art on paper for sale, visit our website at

Source: EzineArticles
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