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Table of Contents


Introduction to Searching the AMPR Database

The AMPR search engine lets you search quickly to find sales and auction records to determine the value of the antique map, atlas or globe you are seeking. Please spend a few minutes with this guide to learn how to use the search engine.

Keep in mind that the AMPR, while providing an extensive survey of the antique map market, is not a complete record of all sales. If a specific map is not found, we recommend finding comparable items from the same period, map-maker and/or geographical region to assist you in determining an approximate value.


The Search Engine

Every record is divided into numerous fields, each containing a different type of data. This allows the database to be searched in a variety of ways to easily find exactly what you are seeking. Examples given below often show text surrounded by quotes, however the quotes are for readability here and should not be used in searches.

Partial Words are Powerful: An important concept is the use of partial words rather than the full word. It is usually faster and better to use as little of a word as needed. The search engine looks for partial words, but only from the start of a word. In other words, a search for smith in the Creator field will return maps by Smith, Smithsonian, etc, but will not return any by Arrowsmith. For example, searching for calif will return all instances of California, Californie, and Californien. Alternately, searching for California will return only those records exactly matching this spelling. Use full words only when you are looking for a very specific spelling and are willing to miss potential typos or alternate spellings.

Case Insensitive Searches: UPPER and lower case letters are treated equally. You do not need to bother with capitilization.

Common words: words (and, or, of, the) and single letter words are usually ignored by the search engine. Additionally, punctuation (commas, semicolons, etc) are not necessary in the search fields. However when searching the Title for a Phrase (option available in Advanced Search) use all words and punctuation exactly to find a match.

For your convenience the database may be searched using either the Keyword or Advanced search engines. Simply click on the link to change between the two search methods. Enter the search criteria and click the Search button or press the Enter key to start the search. The following sections describe how to use these searches.


Keyword Search

How to use the Keyword Search page

This search will find matching records where each keyword entered is found at least once in the Title, Subject, Map-Maker (surname only), Reference, or the Period fields. The keywords may be entered in any order. Keep in mind that word case does not matter, and the use of partial words may give the best results.

Excluding words from the Search: The Exclude operator (-) will ignore records containing a word when it is immediately proceeded by the minus sign. A space is not allowed between the minus sign and the word to be excluded. Importantly, the full word, not a partial, must be used.

Search Example: Assume you want to find the value of Arrowsmith's "Map of Texas, Compiled from Surveys Recorded in the Land Office of Texas.” Simply enter the keywords arrow texas. If you are only interested in the 1841 edition, simply add 1841 to the keywords and search again. Alternately, using the exclude keyword -1843 will give nearly the same results, by removing the 1843 records from the result. The first page of the search result is shown below.


Simple Search Arrowsmith Example

Search Hints:
  • Keywords and exclude words are seached across the title, subject, map-maker (surname only), references and the period (date) fields
  • Using the first part of a word will show all spelling variations and find more records
  • The entire word must be used when using the exclude operator (the minus sign). Do not separate the minus sign from the word
  • Start generally and add words to refine the search if too many records are returned
  • The Keyword Search may return unexpected records because the keywords are searched across multiple fields. In the example above Arrowsmith’s map of America was included because the word Texas was found in the Subject field. Use the Advanced Search to refine your search.
Advanced Search

How to use the Advanced Search page

The Advanced Search gives you complete control and flexibility over the records found. It allows you to refine your search and find specific maps by adding search criteria in any or all of the individual fields. An understanding of the search engine logic will help you master the powerful Advanced Search.

"AND" Search Fields:
Most fields combine the search words in an "AND" search, meaning the records returned must contain all words entered in the search field. For example searching the title for tabula nova will find only records that contain both words. Fields that use the "AND" operator include Title (with All Words option), Text/Description, and Book/Atlas.

"OR" Search Fields:
Some fields combine the words in an "OR" search, meaning records with any word in the search field will be returned. For example, searching the Map-maker for ortelius hondius (or ort hond) will return records with either (or both) of these cartographers. Fields that use the "OR" operator are Map-Maker, Subject, Dealer/Auction, and References.

Multiple Field Searches:
Searching in more than one field further restricts the results by combining the individual searches into an "AND" search. Consider the two examples in the preceeding paragraph: this more restrictive search returns only records that 1) include tabula and nova in the Title field, and 2) also contains either ortelius or hondius in the Map-maker field.

The image below shows a portion of the results from this search.

Advanced Search example

Display Panel

The image below explains some of the information given in the Results Pane. This display is identical for the Keyword and Advanced search. To see full details for the individual item simply click on the title.

Results Pane information

Indexes and Sorting:
You have complete control over the way search results are arranged in the Display Panel. The default sort order is by the title + the map-maker's surname + the map's date. Every new search will use this default sort order. The first index is the Primary index, the other(s) are sub-indexes. The following image explains how to control the sort order to suit your needs.

Sorting Controls

Search Field Details

Individual search fields are described below in detail. The individual fields may be combined in any manner to improve search results. Any change(s) made, for example changing the currency, will not take affect until the Search button has been clicked.

Title: The Title field has an additional select box that gives extra flexibility on how the search is executed:
ALL WORDS: (the default) This choice finds only those maps with all of the search words. This option performs an “AND” search and accepts excluded words.
PHRASE: This choice finds maps containing the exact phrase entered. The phrase can be the start of the title, or any portion of it. This option does not accept excluded words. When using this option, enter the exact phrase, including 'common' words as well as punctuation and single letter words. Keep in mind that dealers sometime ignore punctuation, potentially resulting in inconsistant results. Using the ALL WORDS' option with the important title words will often expose different cataloging techniques and result in more records returned on the search.

Map-Maker (Surname): Enter the surname(s) of any map-maker you want to include in the search. DO NOT enter the full name , e.g. entering John Arrowsmith will return all records for Arrowsmith, but also those for Johnson, Johnston, etc. Also, there are alternative spellings and names for a number of cartographers. The search engine has been enhanced to automatically return alternate spellings and surnames, e.g., l'Isle and Delisle. This is an “OR” search field and accepts excluded words. Keep in mind that there are often multiple people associated with the creation of a map: cartographer, engraver, publisher, surveyor, etc. Some dealers may attribute a map to the engraver, while another may attribute the publisher. For the most complete results, enter all names that could be associated with the map. It may also be helpful to enter the names in the Text/Description field, as additional information is often contained in this field.

Text/Description: The description field searches for words in the catalog description for the item. This field finds maps matching all of the word(s) entered and accepts excluded words. The description field often contains additional information about a map such as the names of engravers, publishers, surveyors, etc.

Dealer/Auction: : Searches for the company name, not the dealers personal name. This is an “OR” search field and accepts excluded words.

Source: This field contains the title of the book, atlas, or magazine in which a map was published. If you are looking for a price record for a specific atlas use the Title search field. This field is most useful for refining search criteria. This is an “AND” search field and accepts excluded words.

References: Will return records with any of the word(s) or numbers entered. This is an “OR” search field and accepts excluded words. It is best to use this search in conjunction with searches in other fields.

Geographical Searches: You may add geographical criteria to the search in two ways.
  • Subject: This field contains geographical and descriptive category words, e.g., Arctic, California, Boston, portrait, celestial, atlas, globe, etc. This data was collected from the dealer/auction catalog. Therefore, it may not be consistent for all records, e.g., classification of a map showing Havana Harbor might include Caribbean, West Indies, Cuba, and/or Havana. This is an “OR” search field and accepts excluded words. This field is similar to the Region selection box described below and in many cases the results are identical. However, it often contains additional data such as city name.
  • Region: This selection box limits results to those matching a specific geographical or subject criteria, e.g. World, Illinois, Scandinavia, Globes, Title Pages, etc. Keep in mind that many antique maps may not fit precisely into present-day geographical categories. For example maps of Bohemia can be found in the Czech Republic, Germany and Eastern Europe depending on the extent of the map.

Date Field Searches: There are two searchable date fields:

Period/Circa – publication date of the map.
AMPR Year – the year a dealer/auction catalog was published (1982-present).

The date fields do not accept the exclude function. You may search for dates in three different ways.
  • A range of dates may be searched by entering two full years separated by a dash, e.g. 1570-1583. To limit to a range of AMPR years use the same format, just remember valid AMPR years begin in 1982.
  • To find records within a decade use first three digits, e.g., 173 to include maps published between 1730 and 1739. To limit the search to a century use the first two digits, e.g., 17 to include all items published 1700 to 1799.
  • To limit search results to a single year simply enter the full year.
  • Keep in mind that catalogers use inconsistent dating formats, sometimes resulting in inconsistent results. If the catalog entry includes a date range, e.g., 1570-1610, the search engine uses the first date in the range. In this example search for the date range 1570-1575 will include this map in the results, even though it may have been published in 1610. AMPR searches use the first date in the range given as the basis for the search. For example consider a map dated "1570-1610". Searching for the date range "1570-1572" will include this map in the results, even though it may have been published as late as 1610.

Dimensional Searches: Use the dropdown selection box to choose either >= (Greater than or Equal to) (the default), or <= (Less than or Equal to) the amount entered. The default is inches. You may limit searches by Height or Width or by both. The amount entered uses the Units (in/cm) selector directly below. Choices are inches or centimeters. Results will be displayed in the units selected.

Options: Use this selection box to limit the results to only dealer catalogs, only auction catalogs, or to include all catalogs (the default). The second selection box allows you to select the number of results to show on a page: 25 (the default), 50 or 100. We recommend you changing this setting to 100 if you have a fast Internet connection.

Currency: The default currency is US Dollars. Use the drop down selector to change to any one of several different currencies. The currency amount will change based on historical currency exchange rates for the year in whichthe item was offered for sale. Therefore searches will result in an approximate value. The correct currency symbol will appear as a prefix to the amount. In the case of currencies dominated in dollars a single letter will indicate the county, e.g. A$ indicates the Australian dollar. The US dollar is simply shown with the $ sign and no letter.

Additional Information and Hints
  • As a general rule, keep your searches simple at first, then add additional criteria to refine the search.
  • Partial words are usually preferable to the full word. You can then add additional criteria to refine the search as you drill-down to the exact maps you are seeking.
  • Case is not important to your search - UPPER and lower case letters are treated equally.
  • All searches are limited to a maximum of 500 records. You will receive a notice to create a more specific search anytime the search returns more than 500 records. Use additional search criteria to obtain a smaller result set.
  • The search engine ignores common words (and, or, the, an, of) and all single letter words and numbers. Also, common punctation is ignored unless it is contained within a word: for example O'Brien. Common words are ignored in all search fields except when doing a title search with the Phrase option selected.
  • The exclude function can improve search results. Use the Exclude operator (-) to ignore records containing the exclude word. Multiple words may be excluded from the same field, but each must be entered separately with its own minus sign with a space between each. Exclude words will not work with partial words, the full word must be used.
  • It is common for catalogers to edit some older spelling patterns into their modern form. The most common old spellings affect the letters u, v, s, and f. The search engine Title field has been enhanced to automatically look for the alternate spellings with no intervention on your part, e.g. searching for tabvla will also return records with tabula in the title.
  • Most character modifiers have been removed to facilitate your search. For example, the ü character is converted to u, the ć is converted to ae, etc.

As with any database compiled from numerous, diverse sources there are variations due to various catalogers' style. Examples include abbreviation of title words, inconsistent use subjects or references, attribution of a map to an engraver instead of the cartographer or publisher (or to the original cartographer instead of the publisher when the map is a re-issue), elimination or addition of punctuation, and so on. While the editors at have made a concerted effort to identify and correct obvious misspellings and errors, it is not possible to correct all variations in such a large database. There again, it is best to start with a simple search to find all potential examples of the map you are trying to locate and then refine your search.

If you are experiencing trouble using the search engine, please contact our technical support staff using the Contact Us page.

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