Antique map at auction shows early Washington before District of Columbia

The extraordinary private collection of
more than 100 maps documenting the topographical and development of
Washington D.C. history is making big news in the Beltway.

Antique_map_District_of_Columbia.jpgThe maps cross the block Thursday, May 20, 2010 at Quinn’s Auction
Galleries & Waverly Rare Books
in Falls Church, Va. As part of the map collection of Washingtonian John Richman, the collection of rare maps traces over 200 years
of the District’s physical progress, including the dredging of the Potomac that
enabled the creation of a unified new city.

lowres-Antique_map_District_of_columbia2.jpg“This collection is a virtual 200-year time capsule of how
Washington was established, how it looked before the District was formed, and
how the aspects of some of its most important landmarks changed the landscape,”
said Matthew C. Quinn, co-owner of Quinn’s Auctions. “There are maps of the
City of Alexandria, the City of Georgetown, and then the newly established City
of Washington
. Additionally, there are maps showing The Washington Monument as
it was being built.”

The ongoing architectural improvements and transformation of the nation’s
most famous monuments (including The Washington Monument), The White House and
other structures are documented in several maps that show the evolution of our
nation’s capital. “All this history in one location, how often do you see
that?” Quinn said. “It’s fascinating to compare the city’s transformation over

Antique_map_District_of_Columbia3.jpgMost of the D.C. maps are over 100 years old, and some are
on the pricier side, like Andrew Ellicott‘s late-18th-century “Plan
of the City of Washington in the Territory of Columbia ceded by the States of
Virginia and Maryland to the United States of America
.” Its auction estimate is
$500-$1,000. But Quinn stressed that most of the maps entered in the sale are
very affordable, with individual estimates starting well under $100.

“This is a rare opportunity for Washingtonians to own
fascinating views of their city from over a century ago. Each map is
attractively framed and ready to hang as a historical artwork in the home or
office,” Quinn said. The maps have been featured on Washington-area television stations, drawing interest from collectors and Washington history buffs alike.

The John Richman District of Columbia map collection is the
centerpiece of a larger selection of rare books, maps and atlases to be
auctioned Thursday May 20 at 6:30 p.m. All forms of bidding will be
available, including live via the Internet.

Contact Matthew Quinn by calling 703-532-5632 or e-mailing Visit Quinn’s online at

This isn’t the only antique map making headlines this month. Garth’s is offering the 1826 Savery-Sumner map, titled “Map Of The Western Reserve Including the Fire Lands in Ohio,” May 29.

– Posted by Eric Bradley


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Antiques News, Auctions, Blog, Fine Art
Karen Knapstein

About Karen Knapstein

Karen Knapstein is the editor of Antique Trader magazine. A lifelong collector and student of antiques, she has written dozens of articles on vintage collectibles and their historical context. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Joseph, and daughter, Faye. She can be reached at