Fair features old maps of South Florida and Cuba



A 1935 map of Miami Beach has glued-on updates showing how someone tried to keep up with the city’s ultra-rapid growth. One 1897 map of Cuba is printed on linen, a special order from Teddy Roosevelt for his Rough Riders.

Those and tens of thousands of other maps were on sale over the weekend at the Miami International Map Fair, the largest annual gathering of dealers and buyers in the United States and competition for similar fairs in London and Paris.

Forty-two dealers displayed their maps 20 feet high on the walls of HistoryMiami — the site of the former Miami Art Museum — as well as on tables, x-shaped stands and glass display cabinets for the most valuable items.

Headlining the show was the first map of the 13 U.S. colonies, published in 1746. There was also a 1634 map of the eastern coast of the United States and many even more ancient maps of the Holy Land, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Some showed more than just geography — railroad lines, food sources, Native American reservations or fishing grounds. Others showed land from different angles, like the side view of a flying bird. Also on sale were globes, geography books and other collectables.

The four-part, 1935 map of Miami Beach had updates glued on over city blocks and other features as they were developed, said dealer Craig Clinton of Old Imprints in Portland, Ore. One section showing South Beach even included changes in the shoreline.

Jim Robertson, a Boston retiree living in Fort Myers, said he especially liked one clearly proud Massachusetts map-maker’s view of the United States in the 1850s, showing Cape Cod as much larger than all of the state of New York.

Dealer Joseph Gonzalez, of Fairwinds in New York, said that this year he has seen growing interest in maps of Colombia and Venezuela — perhaps reflecting the growing arrivals in South Florida of citizens of those countries.

But judging from the maps given the best displays in the dealers’ booths, the maps of Florida, Cuba and the Caribbean had the best sales potentials. One early 1700s map of the Florida Keys drew a lot of attention from potential buyers, dealers said.

The 7-foot-wide maps of Cuba printed on four sections of linen were ordered by Roosevelt for his Rough Riders to make sure the island’s humidity would not destroy them during the Spanish-American War, said dealer John Berryman, of Ormond Beach.

Only three other copies are believed to exist, making it extremely rare and well worth its price of $7,500, Berryman added.

Also on sale were a 1718 map of Havana, a 1779 map of the island, and a 1762 French navy map of Cuba that identified the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba as “Ville de St. Yago” and nearby Guantánamo Bay as “Puerto Escondido” — Hidden Port.

Most of the dealers, including some from London, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, will also exhibit later this year in map fairs to be held in Chicago and at the University of Texas in Arlington.

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