Maps of the Past Stand Out Because of Their Vivid Coloring!
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You might question why maps—antique or modern—require any sort of coloring
at all; but the truth is that maps of the past presented a marvelous appearance
only because of coloring by hand!
Of course, the earlier maps that were cut into blocks of wood or engraved
on copper (by Ruscelli) were better left alone; and so they were. The
17th century saw the advent of scintillating hand coloring. The brilliant
colors came from prepared pigments, and utilized by Blaeu and his fellow
artists. Of course, most of the pigments have been lost forever because
no one took steps to preserve the art.
The coloring was attempted at the time of printing itself, whether it
concerned a map or a print. And why was this so necessary? Imagine trying
to distinguish the separate things you want to present on a map. Varied
hues will highlight them and also make it easier for the viewer to figure
out places, names, monuments, and so on. All the colors of the rainbow
were tried out on these antique maps. The mapmakers stuck to orange, green,
yellow and pink for political subdivisions; red for landmarks such as
a cathedral and other buildings; blue depicted water; and names were shown
up in black.
Now it is not possible for antique maps to stand the test of time, especially
if they date back to the 1600s. So when you are shelling out hard cash
for them, check them out thoroughly. Some colors such as brown and green
can burn through the paper. At times, tiny worm holes are also visible.
Some of the maps may have gone through repairs, which you might not be
informed of by the dealer. These defects appear because the person who
did the coloring at that time did not use an aesthetic hand.
Sometimes, people add in color to antique maps that were colorless. But
the picture becomes attractive and meaningful only if the application
is done in a style suitable for that particular period or that particular
mapmaker. True, the colors utilized now are modern, but if done with skill,
no one will be able to differentiate between contemporary and modern.
Despite lovers of the antiques advocating that the maps should be left
as they are—color or no color, there are many collectors like you who
prefer to see some brightness added to them. The expert will ensure that
sizing is done to the printed surface before pouring in modern colors.
This is to prevent burning. Once the work is completed, your antique map
can be matted and framed. Let it occupy a pride of place in your home