New to Maps?

UNDER CONSTRUCTION:  Please send suggestions, corrections, amplifications, observations, complaints, etc., to

Dear Prospective Map Enthusiast:

On this page we summarize some basic resources for curious folks new to the map community.  Interest can take many different directions such as collecting, studying cartograpic techniques, development of cartography, cartography of voyages of discovery, and also some narrower niches such as studies of sea monsters on maps or variations in the compass rose.

We note some original resources and list external links. External links evolve, so you may hit some dead ends.

It is beyond the scope of this site to answer specific questions about collecting, cartography, cartographers, map-making, etc., so please access the resources listed below.

Absolutely everything you need to know about map collecting in one minute (Quote from of interview of Eliane Dotson, VP, Washington Map Society, and proprietor with her husband Jon of Old World Auctions):  "For new collectors she offers some advice. Collectors should identify their collecting interests, know what the market is like, and know the maximum amount they are willing to spend to acquire a particular map. As an aside on map prices, she mentioned that with the digitization of the map trade, collectors are able to see the inventory of dealers far away; this allows more transparency into availability and has worked to hold prices down. Returning to advice for new collectors, she suggests collectors “buy the best quality you can afford” and maps in the “best condition possible”."

Webmaster suggests five major avenues of information (but there are hundreds more!):

  • This site, to keep up with your society's meetings, profiles, reports, etc.
  • The WMS Facebook page for new, varied, and fun information about maps. (link from WMS home page)
  • The John Docktor comprehensive page of worldwide events and exhibits. (link from WMS home page)
  • The Library of Congress blog covering many topics of interest from the world's finest map collection. The WMS fortunately enjoys membership of several LOC colleagues. (link from WMS home page)
  • - a VAST resource administered by Tony Campbell, former Map Librarian, British Library.

Articles from the Washington Map Society journal The Portolan:

Click HERE for Joel Kovarsky's Web Resources article.

Click HERE for Joel Kovarsky's reference works article.

Click HERE for Joel Kovarsky's "Book Search Engines on the Web."

Click HERE for Joel Kovarsky's "Care of Old Maps."

Click HERE for papermaking article supplied by Old World Auctions.  Why does a Camden 1624 map of Gloucestershire look fresh, but a 1895 map of NY looks like it went through the washing machine?

Your webmaster enjoyed the short book "Discovering Antique Maps" by Alan G. Hodgkiss.

We hope you find this page useful and will join the Washington Map Society by clicking HERE.  As a member you can develop your own profile and search and communicate with WMS members with similar interests.