Buying an impressive world map for my wife for christmas - how & where?
November 4, 2013 5:21 AM   Subscribe

Trying to buy a classy map for my wife's christmas present. Are there any places online that are a bit more than simply a "poster print shop"?

My wife told me the other day that she "loves maps", which made the corners of my mouth rocket up the side of my head. Having played a lot of RPG's throughout my life, cartography and the general wonder of maps (real or fictional) are amazing to me. A perfect present for her (and happily suiting in my tastes too!), would be a really swanky, sophisticated world map - and I can give it to her for her Christmas present.

I would love it to be a bit nicer than simply a "world map poster" bluetacked to the wall. We live in a rented house, so it can't be hand painted on to the wall either.

Having a look around, I've just about decided on a political map (useful too!) as opposed to a historical one. Although I will say, it's hard not to get something like this.

After having a look at some of the possible map projections, I really like the Goode homolosine projection and think it would look really classy with the "orange peel" cut out and mounted on black paper in a large wide framed picture. I have seen the Waterman butterfly (thanks xkcd) and, while beautiful, might be a little further afield to what I think she would appreciate (see: "I don't like how I have to tilt my head ...")

How do I go about doing this? Are there any other map possibilities I have missed? Are there any "classy" (non poster print) map sites to buy from? Are there more interesting antique alternatives?
posted by Cogentesque to Shopping (21 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Are there more interesting antique alternatives?

Globes are pretty cool too and make a nice piece of furniture.
posted by three blind mice at 5:36 AM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

We bought some giclee map prints from these folks on a recent trip and just haven't gotten around to getting them framed yet. Most are historical, though, but I think they're all beautiful.

Also - I recently heard that the US Government is going to stop printing nautical these would be historical, in that they're going away, but still current (so to speak). If you have a favorite coastal area, one of the final printed charts might be a neat personal gift.
posted by jquinby at 5:39 AM on November 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think you may want the Future Mapping Company. I have the magnetic version of this one framed on my wall and it is lovely. We stick magnets on to mark where we're going next.
posted by corvine at 5:46 AM on November 4, 2013

Restoration Hardware sells some beautiful, if expensive, framed maps.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:50 AM on November 4, 2013

Do books count? Levenger has a book about maps drawn in the 1500's that seems to be popular. It comes with two large fold out maps.
posted by manderin at 5:52 AM on November 4, 2013

Perhaps one of the Atlases of True Names?
posted by zombieflanders at 5:53 AM on November 4, 2013

Oh my I think we just hosed the Lahaina Printsellers Website.

Give it a few minutes to calm down, I guess. O_o
posted by jquinby at 5:54 AM on November 4, 2013

Check out Historic Urban Plans?
posted by stefnet at 6:03 AM on November 4, 2013

Check out Raven Maps! They are gorgeous and high quality, hand colored in Oregon. I have their giant version of my state (on foam board) mounted to our wall with a frame constructed of standard baseboard trim mitered to fit.

Last time I looked, however, they did not do political maps. Perhaps their customer service folks would be nice enough to refer you to something political of comparable quality? Worth a try!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 6:18 AM on November 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh and I meant to add that there used to be sources of giant maps in the form of multiple wallpaper rolls. Of course not great for a rental, but it does bring to mind that you might want to consider longevity and your ability to easily move said map. I had to borrow a giant car and drive four hours round trip to move my big Raven map.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 6:25 AM on November 4, 2013

Rand McNally offers many maps, including this preframed doozy. But for my money, globes are so much more informative.
posted by paulsc at 6:26 AM on November 4, 2013

Not sure what your price point is, but a friend of mine just started this company: Bedrock Images.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:28 AM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dymaxion map? I have this and it's a great conversation piece.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:53 AM on November 4, 2013

If you ever want a map of the US (maybe a gift for another year), look at David Imus's wonderful Essential Geography of the United States of America (link is to an accurate review). My husband gave it to me last year and I love it.
posted by Ery at 7:02 AM on November 4, 2013

If you have an IKEA close to you, you can check if they carry this canvas print. We have it in our living room. It's huge and a great conversation piece. It's also very lightweight so easy to move around.
posted by yawper at 7:11 AM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Vintage maps aren't all that expensive. Etsy shops abound.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:13 AM on November 4, 2013

National Geographic sells all kinds of lovely maps. That's where we bought our wall world map.
posted by jillithd at 7:27 AM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding yawper above on the Ikea map. I work in the oil and shipping business, and it's better than most world port maps (I'm looking at you, Lloyd's) that cost far more. It's also directly behind me when I Skype giving me that Look of Authority. Or something.

That said, when I bought it last year it was EUR 39. Now it's EUR 139! Exact same map!
posted by digitalprimate at 8:32 AM on November 4, 2013

While I don't have any suggestions for the map itself, a nice addition to the map, if you two haven't read it yet, is Ken Jennings' Maphead. Or you could buy it now for inspiration, as he does write about the process of buying quality maps.
posted by Ruki at 4:09 PM on November 4, 2013

You could also consider some really cool alternative renderings.
posted by just_ducky at 8:16 PM on November 4, 2013

In order to make sure you get a present that she loves, I'd recommend trying to identify what types of maps she really likes. I absolutely adore maps - and have several framed in my house - but most of the maps suggested here aren't really my thing. They're really cool and everything - following the links just made me realize how many types of maps there are. And getting a present designed to go on your wall is pretty high stakes - if you don't like it, you either have to stare sadly at it every single day, or tell your super-excited partner that you hate it. Sad.

So here are a few categories to help you identify what she might like:
-Vintage maps (evaluate which eras she likes - map art from different time periods can be really different)
-Political maps
-Artistic maps
-Designy maps
-Subverting-expectations maps
-Fun maps
-Retro-vintage maps

And just a couple more tips:
-Maps of specific areas are often cooler than world maps (maybe of a place that has importance within your relationship, for romanticness extra credit?)
-Get it framed
posted by leitmotif at 8:25 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

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