Thursday, March 26, 2009

Antique Prints on the Web: Blogs

One of the subjects which I will post about on a regular basis is that of web sites that have relevance to antique prints. As the Antique Prints Blog is a brand new blog specifically on that topic, I will first look at blogs where antique prints are a primary theme. I am, however, not going to cover commercial blogs. Many blogs related to antique prints are simply vehicles to post listings of items for sale or special sales events. There is nothing wrong with such blogs, of course, but as stated in my first post, this blog “is intended to be a non-commercial blog for the education and enjoyment of anyone interested in antique prints.” I will not hesitate to include links to the Philadelphia Print Shop web site, and of course I hope that my business will benefit from its existence, but the rule I will follow is for this blog to be primarily non-commercial. Thus I am going to discuss only blogs that I consider also to be primarily non-commercial.

In January of this year, the Printcollector started a blog entitled Collecting Antique Prints and Maps. His/her intent for the blog states that it was designed to be “for the benefit of antique, rare, scarce prints and maps collectors.” This blog would thus be very similar in intent and subject to the Antique Prints Blog and so it is worth keeping an eye on it. However, the only post so far is the initial, introductory one from January 5, 2009.

A much more active blog is Neil Street’s First Printing: The Antique Maps and Antique Prints Blog which he has maintained since the end of 2005. Neil regularly makes posts which contain listings of meetings, exhibitions and other events related to antique maps and prints. He also lists map and print auctions and antiquarian bookfairs. These lists cover both North America and Europe. This is an excellent blog to follow if interested in these topics, as Neil keeps the list current and impressively comprehensive. (Anyone who is organizing such events should make sure to send him a notice).

John Ptak has a very interesting blog, The History of Ideas--unusual connections in the history of science, math, art and social history John’s business involves books, pamphlets, manuscripts and prints in the sciences and the history of science, and his blog seems to cover the same territory. Scattered in among his 562 posts (as of today) are many interesting essays that relate to antique prints (and maps). These are not that easy to find, but he does include a partial index. A fun and interesting blog to explore.

While maps are only a secondary theme for this blog, I want to mention the excellent Map the Universe, a blog about antique map collecting. Begun in July 2006, this regularly updated blog contains posts on every imaginable topic of interest to those who collect antique maps. I highly recommend this blog and hope that I can make Antique Prints Blog close to as good as Map the Universe.

Finally, there is Marty Weil’s first-class blog Ephemera, exploring the world of old paper, which recently celebrated its third anniversary. Ephemera is a closely related or indeed overlapping topic with antique prints, so this blog is worth exploring.

Beyond this I found only a number of blog posts on particular topics, and the aforementioned commercial blogs. The amount of interesting material on most of the blogs listed above has inspired me to make a firm commitment to keep posting on a regular basis so that this blog will one day achieve a comparable quality. Keep tuned….


  1. Hi - I have two old litho stones in my basement. One is very clearly an 1890 map of minnepolis and the other seems to be some advertising. I have called the historical society and offered the stones, but they tell me there a lot of them out there. Half of me thinks they believe I am saying PRINT not stone, but I have tried more than once.

    It has been suggested that I display at t]least the map. The probelem is that it is fairly dirty and I am afraid to clean it.

    My questions are: Is this stone truly an unusual find? If I want to display it, can I clean it? How?

  2. There are indeed lithographic stones "out there," but they are still fairly scarce. One of the great things about lithography is that it is fairly easy to wipe a stone clean and reuse it, so it is not that often that old stones were kept. There is something of a market for the stones, especially if they are of an important image, but on the other hand they are not something that many people are that interested in. It is nice to have them, but they probably do not have a lot of value (given that the map you mention is fairly late for this sort of thing).

    As for cleaning the stone, we do not ourselves do any printing, so I cannot suggest how it can be done, but if you try to find a lithographic printer (perhaps in a university art department), he/she might be able to help. Good luck.