June 2012 | Nate Pedersen

The London Map Fair

Fools-Map.jpgEurope's largest specialist map fair will take place this weekend at the Royal Geographic Society in London on Saturday, June 16th, and Sunday, June 17th. For those two days, the world's most significant assembly of maps for sale will be available for browsing in Kensington Gardens. 

Tim Bryars, an antiquarian map dealer and one of the co-organizers of this weekend's London Map Fair said, "The reason that the map fair has become an unmissable event for dealers, curators and collectors over the last thirty years is the sheer range of material that will be on offer." Bryars continued, "I know that I'm going to see maps I've never seen before, maps that I never heard of before, and maps that I want to buy."

Over forty international map dealers will be in attendance and prices will range from the entry level £10 to several hundred thousand pounds. In addition to maps, sea charts, globes, travel books, and atlases will all be on display. Several free lectures will be offered, including one on London's hidden rivers.

Bryars will be bringing several satirical maps to the fair, "including Louis Raemaekers' 1915 satirical map of Europe, which he titled 'het gekkenhuis' (roughly translates at ' the lunatic asylum'!)." Byars continued, "Raemekers made powerful enemies in Germany. The German government made the Dutch put him on trial for compromising Dutch neutrality, and after he was acquitted and fled to England they put a price of 12000 Guilders on his head, dead or alive! They took satire more seriously in those days."

gekkenhuis.jpgSpeaking to Bryars for a few minutes will turn anyone into a map collector.  His enthusiasm for maps is contagious. As he said in our recent conversation, "Maps were rarely made simply because something was there; they were seldom made (in their final form) by anyone who had been to places shown; until the modern era, they were expensive items, beyond the reach of most people; they were more likely than not intended for armchair travellers rather than people trying to get from A to B, and what has been deliberately distorted or left off the map altogether is often as significant as what the map actually shows. It can often be reduced to some combination of trade, politics and religion, power and propaganda."

"Maps are anything but neutral represenatations of parts of the world, made to the best abilities of the map-maker!"

The London Map Fair, with free admission, will take place this weekend:
Saturday, June 16th: 12:00 - 7:00 and Sunday, June 17th: 10.00 - 5:00 at
The Royal Geographical Society (RGS),
1 Kensington Gore, London,  SW7 2AR