Maps were originally colored for aesthetic reasons and to improve readability. Original colors that were most often used were green, pink, orange & yellow for political sub-divisions, red to identify cities and towns, green for forests, brown for mountains, and blue for seas.
Color on maps may have been applied shortly after first printing (original color) or at any time subsequently.
If not otherwise stated: Colors have been applied by hand.
We use the following color key in our catalog:
Original colors; means that the colors have been applied around the time the map was issued.
Colored; If the colors are applied recently or at the end of the 20th century, then "colored", or "attractive colors" will be used. If a cartouche was traditionally left uncolored (as for example, Homann's or Seutter maps), and recent colors are applied, that will be mentioned.
Later colors; If the colors are applied somewhat in between the date of publication and the end of the 20th. century.
Original o/l colors; means the map has only the borders colored at the time of publication.
Later application of color to a map originally printed in black and white, does not make it a fake. Skillfully applied modern color enhances the beauty and thus the value of many maps.
Old colors may have soaked into the paper, and give oxidation, especially green color, whereas in general modern colors do not. The exact date of coloring is often difficult to determine with certainty. Please contact us if you would like more information on the color of a map.
Please have a look at our short article about map coloring.