I am running a periodic series where I interview some of the people collectors come across. My purpose is to shed light on what they do and how they work, especially for new collectors. For the second post in this series I interviewed Eliane Dotson, owner of Old World Auctions in Glen Allen, Virginia.
Old World Auctions has been in existence since 1978 and Eliane, along with her husband, purchased the online auction house in 2007. She developed her interest in maps from being around her father’s collection. Although not a collector, she is passionate about maps and describes her career as giving her a chance to work with them everyday. Indeed, the best part of her work is the opportunity to research maps daily. Eliane says of 15th and 16th century maps that they “combine art and history” making them among her favorite pieces. A few times per year maps that she hasn’t come across make their way to Old World Auctions, giving her a chance to “bring their stories to life”.
When pieces come in on consignment, Eliane explains that they are thoroughly researched, their authenticity, condition, and other relevant information cataloged, and they are imaged using a rolling scanner over three feet wide. Each auction, conducted virtually, is managed well in advance, as this process underpins each listing in the auction catalog. She further asserts that Old World Auctions researches and describes each piece in far more detail than other auction houses.
When asked about recent trends in the map market, Eliane reports seeing an increased interest in 20th century pictorial and political maps. Maps showing westward expansion of the United States have also been popular.
Eliane describes the community of map dealers and collectors as very tight knit and “really great to work with”.
For new collectors she offers some advice. Collectors should identify their collecting interests, know what the market is like, and know the maximum amount they are willing to spend to acquire a particular map. As an aside on map prices, she mentioned that with the digitization of the map trade, collectors are able to see the inventory of dealers far away; this allows more transparency into availability and has worked to hold prices down. Returning to advice for new collectors, she suggests collectors “buy the best quality you can afford” and maps in the “best condition possible”.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a satisfied customer of Old World Auctions.
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© Peter Roehrich, 2016