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Frequently Asked Questions

What are "ward maps"?
The term ward map is one of many descriptors for the type of 19th century and early 20th century maps we specialize in. Often called real estate, plat or neighborhood block maps, ward maps contain detailed information such as property owner names, building street numbers & heights, public infrastructure such as subways, street names & water mains, business names, institution names as well as information on public parks and water ways.

Ward maps were published to paying subscribers in bound atlases. The subscribers were typically real estate concerns who used ward maps to track property ownership and type. Ward maps were used by municipalities, real estate firms, insurance companies and other entities that needed a detailed record of where properties were located, who owned properties, and what properties were constructed of. All of the colors in our maps are original, though many have sadly faded over time. Many of the publishers used colors as a graphic code to indicate construction types of the buildings, i.e. pink for brick and yellow for wood.

Ward map atlases depict a specific county, city or neighborhood and typically have 20-40 maps or "plates" each. Each plate shows a specific geographic area, usually only a few city blocks or a portion of a town. A few plates depict part or all of one city ward, hence the moniker "ward maps".


What are "original, antique maps"?
Original, Antique maps are the real thing. They are genuine vintage maps that were originally published decades ago. Look for the "Buy Original Antique Map" buttons throughout our website for your opportunity to purchase an authentic piece of cartographic history.

What are "print styles"?
We offer two print styles - "restored" and "unrestored". More details below.


What are "restored map prints"?
Restored map prints are our specialty. We digitize all the maps we own and restore them using the latest graphic software. We sell archival quality prints of the restored maps. We do not perform restoration of the paper maps. An example of an unrestored (before) and restored (after) map can be found here.

 
Restored Map Print
Restored Prints are our specialty. We digitize all the maps we own and restore them using the latest graphic software. We sell archival quality reproductions of the restored maps. We do not perform restoration of the paper maps.
After Restoration
All tears have been repaired. Missing pieces have been extrapolated. Staining has been minimized.

How does WardMaps restore maps?
Using the latest digital image manipulation software, we carefully remove significant blemishes such as water stains, foxing and tear marks. We do not alter technical information nor the beautiful patina, sometimes called browning, that these historic documents have picked up over time. We do not "blast" the maps with a simple change of color or adjustment of the contrast. That method can result in the loss of the patina and subtleties of the original map. We digitally restore maps at the level of the pixel far beyond what the eye would see in the final print. And since our source scans are 300dpi-400dpi, we can achieve an amazing level of restoration.

The WardMaps restoration process is directed by WardMaps co-founder, Brian Beaucher, who has years of experience with the digital restoration of sensitive historic documents. Brian pioneered and directs the WardMaps digital restoration process. He received his formal training in digital media and graphic design at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Brian has worked at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts assisting the conservator and curator of the 19th Century Asian Photography Collection. Read more about Brian here.

What are "unrestored map prints"?
Unrestored prints are direct replicas of the original, antique maps in our collection. When we perform no alteration to the source map we refer to it as "unrestored". We coined this term to make a distinction from our "restored" maps (see above). An example of an unrestored (before) and restored (after) map can be found here

 
Unrestored Map Prints
Unrestored Prints are direct replicas of the original, antique maps in our collection. We did not alter the source map, hence the example to the left is "unrestored". We coined this term to make a distinction from our "restored" map prints - see explaination above.
Before Restoration
Plate 11 from the Atlas of West Roxbury by Bromley. This map was published in 1924 and was ravaged by many years of heavy use. The map is approximately 22" x 32".Map is separated into two pieces at the crease. There are significant tears and pieces of the map missing.

What are the "print media" options?
 
Fine Art Paper
The majority of our reproductions are printed on our archival, fine art paper. We utilize Epson fine art paper and Epson Ultrachrome inks. Using this highly engineered combination of archival inks and acid-free paper, we create museum-quality, no-fade reproductions. Fine art paper is smooth with a matte finish and is available at four standard sizes: 8 1/2" x 11" (small); 13" x 19" (medium); 18" x 24" (intermediate); and 24" x 34" (large). Framing of all fine art prints is available.

Layout
While we print reproductions onto paper of pre-determined sizes (8 1/2" x 11", 11" x 17", 13" x 19", 18" x 24", etc.) the sizes and proportions of our antique maps and photographs vary. We reconcile this discrepancy by printing each reproduction as large as possible, while maintaining the original proportions of the source image. Given that the proportions of the antique map or photograph rarely match the proportions of the standard paper sizes, there is always white space (the color of the paper or canvas before printing) around each reproduction. This is to say that there is a portion of the paper or canvas with no printing on it, usually less than one inch around all sides of each reproduction. Please note that without a custom mat, reproductions will not typically fit into standard, store-bought frames nor mats. If the white space is undesirable or to facilitate framing in a standard frame, we recommend adding a mat to smaller reproductions. Larger reproductions require custom matting and framing by us or others as the proportions of the antique maps may be larger than store bought frames. Feel free to contact us with questions about layout of our giclée prints prior to placing an order.

Where does WardMaps obtain maps?
Our maps are come from private collections. They are rare and out of print. We created WardMaps as the premier online resource for purchasing antique originals as well as museum quality reproductions of these rare maps.

How does WardMaps digitize maps to be printed?
We utilize two processes to digitize our maps. The first process scans original maps at 300-400dpi via a large-format commercial scanner. Maps are scanned in a single pass, allowing us to capture all of the detailed text, colors, building plans and place names of each map. We do not assemble any of our maps from a series of smaller scans.

The second process is photographic, utilized for maps too large or too fragile for the scanner. For oversize and fragile maps we utilize a high resolution digital camera, similar to that used by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston to capture large art work for printing. With the maps digitized, we begin the restoration process.

Certain maps are already digitized by third parties for inclusion in our collection. We only work with digital files of the highest resolution and quality.

How does WardMaps make reproduction prints?
Our prints are museum quality, which means that we print only with archival inks on acid-free papers. We exclusively use professional-grade Epson Ultrachrome inks and print onto genuine Epson watercolor and white matte papers. Our prints are not simple color copies, nor are they desktop type ink-jet prints. Our prints are "100 year" prints. Each of our map prints is printed to order and must pass individual inspection before we ship it. More about our print media can be found here.

How were ward maps historically revised or updated?
Ward Map atlases, particularly those by the Bromley Company, were often updated using a paste-up method. The publisher issued sheets of paper with small maps of individual properties that had changed since a particular atlas had been published. The subscriber then cut out the updated properties and pasted then right into the atlas. The paste-up method saved resources, since a whole atlas could be used for many years and simply pasted-up when changes to properties occurred. An example of paste-up revisions can be seen in our midtown Manhattan atlas which was published in 1928 and has paste-ups through 1952.

How do I order Antique Maps & Map Prints?
Step 1:
Browse our online collection of over thousands of maps. Click here to browse maps now.
Step 2: Once you have located the map you would like, click on "Authentic Antique Map" or "Reproduction Print" and select from the following options. Be sure to select framing and/or shipping options.
Step 3: Add the item to your shopping cart. Review your order and follow the prompts to process your order using our secure checkout process. You will receive an automated email confirmation of your order.



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