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.