Yesterday an elegant man came into the gallery with a passion for the mapping of the Mississippi River.
He has most of the key maps for a serious collector of the Southest and Southwest. However, for some reason he decided to tell me that the bottom portion of a key map in the collection had been cut into the plate mark and the printed surface. He said he was able to acquire it for a bargain price.
Well, its not a bargain price.
If you dont have full margins, all the printed surface and a full plate mark around the map, you just dont have the map. You have part of the map. Of course, this is for standard maps from atlases from the 16th through 19th centuries. For some separately issued maps that are truly rare this goal is impossible. But for something that came out of an atlas there should be no compromise.
It is that simple.
Grading for maps is slowly coming around. Pierre Joppen is actively doing it and that does not surprise me because he is uncomprimisingly honest. Lots of other dealers are fighting it because they have been selling clipped maps and will get into trouble when collectors find out they have been clipped.
In 1979 the Arrader Grading System was written listing Historical Importance, Aesthetics, Condition and Rarity as the chief grading points for me. Now that the amazing Kate Hunter is my partner she has demonstrated that provenance is also a key consideration.
These ideas for value came from the stamp, coin and diamond world.
Pierre has taken these ideas and given rankings to each category. He has done this quite well and made a considerable improvement.
When grading takes hold, clipped maps missing printed surface will have 20% of the value of a full sheet AT BEST. Clipped maps missing engraved surface will have 35% of the value. That is a guess but looking at stamps, coins and diamonds makes it pretty clear that rich guys demand perfection.