Sunday, December 07, 2014

More on Antique Map Collection

So, what is real and what is a fake?

There is the rub!  Real is what is real and fake is what is fake.  Again, clear as mud.

Let's look at the production of a "real" map. A real map is engraved by the mapmaker on wood, copper plate or steel.  It's an engraver's art.

The map is then printed from that medium to paper, then colored or not, and published in an atlas or as free maps.

The printing of the original map may go on for years.  Therefore, an "original" map may be the first printing or subsequent printings.  It all depends!

Yes, it's that confusing.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Antique Map Collecting

Why collect antique maps?

There are lots of reasons.  It's fun, it's educational, it can be profitable and it's an affordable hobby to name a few.

I've always enjoyed looking at maps.  The first time I saw an antique map up close I was fascinated by the exotic art, the colors and the fiction, yes, fiction that I saw.

That was a Herman Moll map of Africa that was made at a time the interior of Africa was totally unknown to the mapmakers.  The made it all up.  Fictional beasts and people, including cyclops and other strange concoctions.

You had me at "strange."

But, what is an antique map?  How can you tell if it's an original.

Well, I'll get to that subsequently but for now let's look at a couple of maps, one a reproduction and the other a reproduction.


Check out the two maps below:

The map on the bottom is a modern reproduction.  A photocopy of the original map reproduced by lithography.  The map at the top is also a reproduction but is on "original" paper and printed by the original copper engraving.  Thus, the upper map is "real" while the lower map is "fake."

Simple, right?

Both are reproductions, but one is fake.  Well, fake-ish.

Clear as mud.

OK, so here's the blueprint for antique maps.

All maps are reproductions of the "original" which was an image engraved on wood, copper or steel.  Wood engravings are generally around 1400's or so, copper stands firm after that period until about the 1800's and steel reigns after that.

I'll discuss how you can tell the difference between wood, copper and steel later.

Friday, December 05, 2014

The Obsession

I have lots of obsessions.  To be polite, let's call them "strong interests." The come and go.  Sometimes they last a decade.  Some of the best interests have lasted a long, long time, say ten years, then faded away either very sadly or without a ripple.

It depends.

Which brings me to maps.  I've always been keenly interested in maps and could pore over them for hours at a time.  I've also been keen on Ye Olde Mappes just because they are different and, you know, Ye Olde!

I bought my first Ye Olde Mappe reproduction many, many years ago from a gift shop in a galaxy far, far away.  It was the typical Ye Olde Mappe - brown, wrinkled, singed around the edges and "antiqued" to use the term.  It was printed to look "old" in the stereotype of what "old" looks like.

It was a map of London circa 1600 and more about that much later.

Then, fast forwarding a few years, I was on vacation in Jamaica and in a gift shop there was a little Ye Olde map of Jamaica for a dollar, so I bought it.  I even framed it and here it is:

It's a reproduction of a map by R. Bonne, an important French 18th century cartographer.  More on this map and Bonne later.

Some years later we were having dinner at a friend's house, a friend who was an antique collector and I noticed a Ye Olde Mappe on his wall and asked him about it.  As gauchely as I could I asked him in what gift shop did he purchase this Ye Olde Mappe.

Pursing his lips as if he were sucking the juice of all the lemons in the World through a very small straw, he informed me that it was not a gift shop map, but an ... ORIGINAL.

I was taken aback.  My mind reeled. What, I thought?  ORIGINAL?  Like a museum original?

He noticed my foaming, spluttering and wide-eyed incredulity and calmly said that, yes, "You can buy antique maps from dealers and other places and they're not that expensive."

I was dumbstruck.  Really?  Even me?

Well before the Internet, much less Google, I did some research and discovered a lovely book available through my Barnes and Noble catalogue, "Collecting Antique Maps" by Jonathan Potter of London, England.  I ordered the book and, thus, my obsession began.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Christmas Time!

It's Christmas Time!

How can I tell?

Christmas trees at Kroger's!


Yeah, that was all sarcasm.  The Christmas stuff has been out since BEFORE Halloween, but it's the appearance of the trees, to me, that really signals the start of the season.

And here they are in all their piney glory!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Money Pit Pool

Anybody who puts in a swimming pool is nuts.  Just saying.

I had a great idea for a Non-Pool Pool Company.  I'd just put a metal box in the back yard with a slot in it.  You'd put $200 each month into the slot and occasionally $500 just for grins.   A little light would come on when the 500 was needed, randomly.  You'd get all the financial appreciation of having a pool without the hole in the ground filled with wet stuff.


Win-Win.  Everybody happy.  Even Mama.

If you look at a Google Earth image of my neighborhood you should be reminded instantly of Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" essay.  Every house has a pale blue dot in the back yard.  There are about 500 houses in my neighborhood and probably 499 pools.  I don't know who the smart guy is without a pool but I feel like installing one in his back yard while he's at work just to show him a thing or two.  Maybe I should just give him the option of one of my metal boxes. 

I bring this subject up because in addition to paying for pool maintenance, they don't last forever.  I know, shock-horror. Nothing is forever, except diamonds which, ironically, is what a pool represents - a bucket of diamonds.

Anyway, a phase of the Great Money Pit Project will be a facelift of the pool.  By "facelift" I mean an overhaul, redo, replacement of vast expanses of concrete and plaster, and tile and flagstones and pumps and pipes and heaters, wires, lights, lions, tigers and bears ... Oh, my!

Of course, the yard will be torn up in the process and that will have to be re-landscaped.


Monday, December 01, 2014

The Money Pit

Work continues on the Money Pit, aka, Our House.

New hardwood floors are in and work just completed on the new staircase, replacing the old carpet with oak.

My builder starts his quote with Phase 1:  Demolition.

That's a fair word to use, demolition.  He means what it says, to demolish, destroy, remove and that's what happens. Demolition isn't as bad as it sounds, I just pity the guys who have to do it, but they seem to have fun and they're all young, fit and immortal.  Ah, the good old days!

Following Demolition is Phase 2:  Preparation.

Preparation is a lot of work but it makes the following phases a whole lot easier if it's done right.  Preparation is just what it says, preparing the surface for stuff to come.  Removing nails, glue, dirt, gunk and making surfaces level, square, even and tight.

The next phase is Installation which involves a lot of measuring, fitting, sanding, routing and measuring again.  The wood for our new staircase was absolutely.  Large, smooth, thick planks of oak that were so nice I kept the off-cuts.  I don't know what I'll do with them but I couldn't bear to throw them away, such nice wood.

We are still in the Installation phase with the first coat of polyurethane drying and we're going to give that about a week before putting on the second coat.  There is no rush and a job done right is a job you don't have to do over.

Do it right or do it over.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Success Is Number 547

Congratulations to Number 547 for completing National Blog Posting Month 2014, the ninth consecutive November for this blog.

Hey, that's us!

It's a warm Sunday afternoon.  Kink is sound asleep on my lap.  He's melting ... melting!  Hot, limp cat draped over me.

The grits were good today, said the non sequitur.  No, seriously, the grits were good today.  Not too salty.  I tell you, over salt the grits ONE time in 30 years and suddenly you're this guy:

That's right the Salt Monster from the original Star Trek, "Man Trap."  Hey, it's not really a monster, it's just drawn that way.

Yes, I over-salted the grits and I nearly had my millionth batch of grits perfectly cooked.  Now, the counter has been reset to 1.  I'll put a sign in my kitchen -

Number of Days Since Over-Salted Grits:  1

Over-salting was just too easy.  I was thinking "pasta" when I dumped in the salt.  I knew it was too much but the evil part of my mind said, "So what?" and I carried on.  Big mistake.  I went from George Clooney stunt double to the Salt Monster in one fell shake.  Literally.

Today, much chastened from my previous neglect and failure I measured out the salt in my palm like I always do.  No dumping.  Just a careful, precise-ish, half-teaspoon give or take a grain or two.

So, that's it.  End of the month.  End of NaBloPoMo.  And the end, hopefully, of the Salt Monster.