Maps Cost in Medieval Times

Subject: Re: Maps
Date: 11 Jan 96 02:59:39 -0700

In article <4cv7r9$>, (Douglas Berry) writes:
> In (James A Renn) said:
>>Does anyone out there have any idea how much a map would cost in a medieval
>>type psuedo-Europe? I'm talking a large atlas type map. Illumination
>>wouldn't hurt. Any thoughts?
> The United States Geograhic Service has an excellent catalog of historical
> maps. Look in your phone book under "U.S. Govt"
> Also many museums have good replica shops. I have a map of Britan, drawn
> about 1250, in a poster size (think movie poster), and it cost me about $15

Ah, but since when could medieval pseudo-Europeans photocopy ;)

The cost of a map would really depend on the game world:

  1. How common are Mapmakers/Scribes/explorers?

    If everyone can read and write, or the printing press has been invented, then formerly labour intensive maps could be churned out quite easily. If on the other hand, members of one sect of some obscure religion are the only ones in the entire world able or allowed to make maps, they'd be pretty expensive. And if few people are out exploring new areas, then the reliability of any maps of those areas would probably bring down the price...

  2. How well-known is the area the map is of.

    Map of local region with commonly used merchants routes, or map of the semi-legendary realms of Oblongatta to the far south with vague marking which could be a mountain chain, or a cluster of rampaging dragons... hmmmm....

  3. How scrupulous the seller is.

    "What's that? You want to buy that map? Well, my dear departed uncle who was found dead at the collapsed entrance to the old abandoned Mithril Mines of Quinglemeyer was clutching that in his hand as he died. Ah, I remember his final words now, 'The jewels! The great heaps of jewels! And the magical weapons! Oh!' I always meant to go back and find out what he was talking about, but alas, now I'm too old for such foolishness... It's the last rememberance I have of my Uncle... I couldn't possibly sell it for less than...."

At any rate, as a rough guideline, equivalent to fifty dollars US for an average map, 1000+ for a rare and/or illuminated one

-Elaine ;) (please excuse any glitch in this, server being weird)

From: "Mr. Mad"
Subject: Re: Maps
Date: 9 Jan 1996 01:23:30 GMT (James A Renn) wrote:
>Does anyone out there have any idea how much a map would cost in a
>medieval type psuedo-Europe? I'm talking a large atlas type map.
>Illumination wouldn't hurt. Any thoughts?

The primary factor in a map's cost is it's accuracy and what it had on it. The only accurate medieval maps where those used by sailors. They often had very detailed information on the costlines but where devoid of any inland features. Real good inland maps didn't begin to appear until the middle of the Victorian Age (1800's).

As far as a maps cost, two factors need to be considered. First, where is the map portraying. A map of nearby coastlines can probably be had cheap (as maps go), 500 gold piece value. The further and more inaccessable the area was, the more the map will cost, upwards of around 5000 gold for the more rare ones. Consider also that many sea maps had sea and wind currents marked on them. These were often a captain's most prized possession: If you knew of a current that could take you somewhere faster than the competition it helped business.

American Colonial captains were well aware of the Gulf Stream years before their British counterparts and used that information to it's full advantage in trade.

Inland maps would have passes and trails upon them, though there accuracy paled in comparison with Sea maps for several reasons I won't discuss here (primarily since I'm not familiar enough with the subject to open my big mouth.)

Finally, in a magical world there are certain other pertinant details to include, like where that dragon's lair is (or at least were he roams so you can avoid his pillaging). In worlds like Birthright (TM) Ley lines would almost certainly be on certain maps.

Below is a chart to use as a GUIDELINE to what a map should cost. If the map is important to the story drop it in a horde or make it just what the players can barely afford.

  Map Accuracy
Map Rarity Very Poor Poor Fair Good Excellent Exceptional
Common 250 500 700 1000 1200 1500
Uncommon 500 700 1000 1200 1500 2000
Rare 700 1000 1200 1500 2000 5000
Very Rare 1000 1200 1500 2000 5000 10000
Unique 1200 1500 2000 5000 10000 20000
Common 100% 80% 75% 50% 35% 25%
Uncommon 80% 75% 50% 25% 23% 20%
Rare 50% 25% 23% 20% 17% 15%
Very Rare 25% 20% 17% 15% 12% 10%

Unique maps, like unique monsters, should be DM placed. For more detail you can seperate maps into land and sea and possibly magical (again, maping ley lines or the like). Also bear in mind that accurate map making implies that it's culture understood and employed trigonometry.

Finally, for historical buffs, only poor maps or worse are made in the dark ages. Good or worse maps are available to Classical (i.e. Roman) and late medieval periods. Excellent and exceptional maps did not appear until the advent of the sextant and widespread use of trigonometry. Like gunpower and full plate, expect to find them only in the Renaissance or later cultures.

The Marvelous Magnificent Michael Morris the Maniacally Mad.

/ \//\
\ ////: "There are three types of lies...
\MM/ : Lies, Damn lies and Statistics!"
\/ : -Edmund Disraeli

From: (Jonathan Egre)
Subject: Re: Maps
Date: 9 Jan 1996 11:20:51 -0000

Don't forget that even the most common maps should cost at least enough to pay a relatively educated person to copy it by hand (including any time spent repeating work spoiled by spilled ink etc.; assuming no printing presses, magical or otherwise). The cost of copying would be proportional to the amount of ink on the page, plus extra for illumination. My guess is about 1-2 weeks' wages for the copying process alone.

Jonathan Egre' at Jobstream Group plc in Cambridge, UK
The above does not represent the opinions or policies of Jobstream Group plc

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Date this article was posted to 7/16/1999
(Note that this date does not necessarily correspond to the date the article was written)

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