{ DISCOVER }

EVERY MAP TELLS A STORY

Each morning when Gallery Director Alex Clausen heads to work at Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps on La Jolla Boulevard, he has absolutely no idea what the day holds for him. “Each package that’s delivered is another discovery,” he says. “And, lately, we’ve been getting some items that I never thought I’d see.”

A day of research at Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps | Mandy Schaffer
A day of research at Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps | Mandy Schaffer

Founded as a website in 1996 by Barry Ruderman, Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps is now the world’s largest and most diverse online inventory of antique maps. The company’s 3,000-square-foot space houses its impressive inventory and provides a workspace for Alex, Barry, and a tight team of staff members.

“Maps provide a wealth of information about history, art, politics, culture, social values, and so much more,” Alex says. “We’re always discovering something new.”

The entrance view at Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps | Mandy Schaffer
The entrance view at Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps | Mandy Schaffer

When asked for an example, Alex pointed to the past week. First, they received a collection of compelling lithographs of the night sky by French-born Etienne Leopold Trouvelot (1827–1895). Trouvelot worked as an artist and nature illustrator until he became interested in astronomy, which led him around the world to produce astronomical illustrations of superb quality. During the course of his life he produced about 7,000 quality astronomical illustrations. He was particularly interested in the sun and is credited with discovering the sun’s “veiled spots” in 1875.

The following day, a California Automobile Road Atlas from 1909 arrived at the gallery. “The exciting thing about this book is it is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, atlases of California intended for car owners,” Alex says.

An 1887 Map of Coronado with the original blue paper wrapper
An 1887 Map of Coronado with the original blue paper wrapper

It provides us with a distinct picture of life in this region in the early twentieth century, before the interstate highway networks, when the transportation network that was so integral to the development of the state was just being born.”

Before the week was out, an 1887 map of Coronado, extremely rare on the market, arrived at the gallery. Produced by the Coronado Beach Company, it is a promotional map for The Hotel Del Coronado, designed prior to the start of hotel construction. On one side, a full broadsheet map of Coronado is shown. On the reverse, there is a regional map of Southern California, centered on Coronado Beach, surrounded by promotional information. The map shows many details, including the proposed site of the hotel, streets, parks, streetcar lines, bridges, wharfs, and a floating bath house. Virtually all the streets from the original plan were built almost exactly as shown and most of the street names remain unchanged to this day.

LEFT: Two drawings from The Great Nebula of Orion by Etienne Leopold Trouvelot RIGHT:  A rare Revolutionary War battle plan of New York City
LEFT: Two drawings from The Great Nebula of Orion by Etienne Leopold Trouvelot RIGHT: A rare Revolutionary War battle plan of New York City

Arguably the week’s most intriguing arrival was the plan for one of the most important early battles of the American Revolutionary War waged in New York City. Published soon after the battle, the plan documents the British landing and the Battle of Long Island up to and including the American retreat to Brooklyn. The map extends from Courtland on the Hudson in the north, to Sandy Hook and Middletown, New Jersey, in the south, depicting towns and settlements, major topographical features, roads, and residences. Major military positions and events of the battle are shown, including the assembled British fleet and the Americans entrenched on Long Island and Manhattan, the initial British landing, and the diversionary thrusts and flanking maneuvers that routed the Continental Army.

“Ironically, it’s easy to get lost in this work,” Alex smiles. “Most every item in our inventory has a fascinating story behind it, and doing the necessary research is an adventure in itself.”

It’s easy, even for the novice, to get lost on RareMaps.com. Through its ever-expanding inventory of thousands of maps and rare books, we discover countless ways to stimulate our intellectual curiosity and appreciate the artistry and intelligence of those who preceded us. Alex, Barry, and the entire team invite us all to visit their website, browse, and call or email with any questions or interest.

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