Introducing the new director for Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps 

Founded as a website in 1996 by Barry Lawrence Ruderman, Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps is the world’s largest and most diverse online antique map seller. The company’s 4,500-square-foot facility houses its impressive inventory and provides a workspace for a tight team of staff members, including new director, Hamilton Allport. A graduate of La Jolla’s Bishop’s School, Hamilton studied geology at the University of Cambridge and graduated with a Master’s degree in 2021. In the summer of 2021, he returned to La Jolla to work for Barry and the gallery’s president, Alex Clausen.

What got you interested in maps? I’ve always loved maps from a navigational point of view. Whenever I went on road trips with my dad, he would use road atlases instead of GPS, and I enjoyed leafing through those. I also loved to pore over any sort of map that I could get my hands on, whether it was a hiking map, a skiing map, or even just a political map in a magazine.

Why are historical maps important to us today? Historical maps are important because they are the best tool we have for understanding how scholars, explorers, and everyday people saw the distant world around them in the past. They show both the bias introduced by limited knowledge but also the cutting-edge nature of exploration and people’s thirst for further discoveries. Maps aren’t just important for what they show, but they are also key works of art. Many of the most important maps of the 16th century were made by some of the notable master engravers and artists of the time, including Hans Holbein and Albrecht Durer, and the same is true in later centuries.

What is your role as director for Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps? My role entails doing anything and everything that needs to be done for the company. This can take the form of looking for maps to buy, doing valuations of collections that we have been offered, helping clients purchase the maps they want, or covering paperwork for maps that we ship and receive. My favorite part of the job is when I have the time to write long descriptions of the maps as they offer lots to research, and many parts of their history remain mysterious. Being able to piece together the history of a 500-year-old object is one of the great perks of the job.

Hamilton Portrait Final_sml

Do you collect maps yourself? Yes. My personal map collection remains small, and I’m slowly acquiring any material that I find unusual in a subject matter that interests me. This is usually focused on geological subjects or eastern England. One map which I am looking for is the very rare and detailed geological map of San Diego published in 1890, before the removal of Orange and Imperial Counties. I’ve only seen that map once before and have not yet had the opportunity to buy it.

Do you have any advice on starting a collection? For the novice map enthusiast, the key is to start by picking a subject that they are passionate about. It’s very tempting to be engrossed by the wide range of possibilities that antique maps offer, but by having one or a few core collections, one can get to a deeper understanding of the history of mapmaking and cartography before branching out into subjects with which they are less familiar.

Visit Raremaps.com to fully appreciate the breadth of the Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps collection and prepare to get lost.