Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps focuses on the future

PHOTOs BY Mandy Schaffer

FOR AS LONG AS HE CAN REMEMBER, Barry Ruderman has been fascinated with maps. “I suppose I got this from my father, who was obsessed with road maps,” Barry smiles. “On family road trips, he’d pass me a map to look at before I could even see out the window.”

Barry grew up, became an attorney, and practiced law for several years before the map bug really bit him. But when it bit, it bit hard. On a ski trip, he stopped into a shop selling antique maps in Taos, New Mexico. He was so enamored, he spent more than an hour there. On the trip back home, he visited several antiquarian bookshops in Santa Fe and made his first purchase: an antique sea chart of San Diego Bay, drawn in 1853.

“What’s amazing about maps is that they are really an intersection of different disciplines,” Barry says. “They provide a wealth of information about history, art, politics, culture, social values, and so much more.”

Barry’s passion has led him from hobbyist to a leading international dealer of fine antique maps and atlases. He began selling maps as a hobby in 1992; launched his website RareMaps.com in 1996; and has sold more than 55,000 antique maps and atlases to collectors and institutions in more than 75 countries. RareMaps.com is the largest and most diverse online resource for antique maps in the world.

Through the years, Barry’s brick-and-mortar space has grown from his garage to an impressive address on La Jolla Boulevard. His company just moved into its newest workspace, covering nearly 3,000 square feet, to accommodate its ever-growing inventory and receive guests and colleagues who travel here from around the world.

Today, with eight full-time employees—including Alex Clausen, former head of the Map & Atlas Department at Swann Galleries in New York City, and Katie Parker PhD, a London-based scholar and fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Barry is able to shift focus. “Through the past 25 years, I’ve been able to develop many relationships with a variety of public institutions as well as private collectors,” Barry says. “Now I’m committed to creating map-centric collaborative communities promoting research, scholarship, social projects, and philanthropy.”

Barry’s current front-burner projects include sponsorship of the Barry Lawrence Ruderman Conference on Cartography at Stanford University, a biennial three-day conference that hosts over a dozen expert speakers from around the world as well as digitization grants and projects with the Huntington Library and the University of Michigan, Clements Library. He and Dr. Katie Parker recently launched an international internship program providing curatorial writing skill training to scholars.

We applaud Barry, not only for turning his passion for maps into a successful business but also for making it a platform for building a collaborative community of information on a global level. For more  information on the Stanford conference, visit library.stanford.edu/rumsey/programs/barry-lawrence-ruderman-conference-cartography-2019.

Owner Barry Ruderman
Owner Barry Ruderman
ATM - Fall 2019 - Barry Ruderman - Interior 2_atm_50

Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.
7407 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla | 858.551.8500