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how to authenticate WW2 maps?

Article about: Hi, I'm curious how to verify a map for the Pacific Theater. It is a map of one of the islands, and has the same symbology and wording as a few other maps I've seen online, so I'm sure the d

  1. #1
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    Default how to authenticate WW2 maps?

    Hi,

    I'm curious how to verify a map for the Pacific Theater. It is a map of one of the islands, and has the same symbology and wording as a few other maps I've seen online, so I'm sure the data and drawing are real, but I'm concerned it might be a reproduction. The paper is relatively heavy, and has deep folds as if its been sitting folded for a long time, but maybe it's a reproduction from 10 years ago and the folds are indistinguishable from folds many years older?

    I've asked the seller how they obtained it, and they said they bought it at an estate sale. I said I would need something concrete that can be used to verify the maps origins, haven't heard back yet, guess cause of the holiday.

    Are there any "dead giveaways" I should look for? If the map is 10 years old, how can I tell? In general, how can I tell it was printed in 1944?

    About me: My father was in WW2 (he was 56 when i was born), and I heard a number of stories, hence my interest. I want to own things from the war because it makes me feel even more connected. I'm not interested in dealing, just owning. Obviously I don't want to buy fake/reproduction items as there's nothing to connect with on those items except greedy cheats. I'm a Marine Corps Veteran and currently in the Air National Guard.

    Thanks for whatever help you can provide.
    John.

  2. #2

    Default Re: how to authenticate WW2 maps?

    In general dating any printed material can be difficult as obviously anything can be reprinted and the materials (i.e. the quality of the paper and ink) can still be obtained today. Most maps are normally dated with the year in one of the corners or where the Legend/key is. If the maps are reproduced correctly and legally (i.e. a re-run of maps needed for a particular area or reproduced for a museum/collector magazine) it will normally give another date or something to identify it as a re-print, much like a book. Maps were issued in their thousands and conditions vary from the barely legible to pristine examples that were either unissued or not used. Although there is a demand for reproduction maps they tend to be for the indentifible places for reenactors (D-Day beaches, Arnhem, etc) so I would suggest that if the map you are looking at is for a random island in the Pacific there would be little commercial value in reproducing it.
    The paper on which WW2 maps were printed again varies from tissue to linen backed, although a lot in the Pacific later on in the war were produced on thicker material to combat the humidity.

  3. #3

    Default Re: how to authenticate WW2 maps?

    Hi John,

  4. #4

    Default Re: how to authenticate WW2 maps?

    I have several different WWII maps in both paper and silk. Probably around 50-60 original examples I can compare yours to. Please attach a picture or two to this post and I'll do my best to see if it's real or not.

    Burt

  5. #5
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    Default Re: how to authenticate WW2 maps?

    Quote by milmuseum View Post
    I have several different WWII maps in both paper and silk. Probably around 50-60 original examples I can compare yours to. Please attach a picture or two to this post and I'll do my best to see if it's real or not.

    Burt
    Hi Burt,

    Thanks, I let the map go, the seller was asking more than I was willing to pay. He did send pics, I'll attach some here, but they're not good.

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    Seller indicates:

    It was printed by the US war office in 1941-42 from a French map from 1934 according to the legend in the lower right corner. It also notes that revisons are based on communications received from intelligence. This one records the location of more than 20 bombing missions during February 1943.
    Hence this might have been used as an operational map, which is exactly what I wanted. However that is probably impossible to confirm.

    I probably should have bought it (he was asking 125 for it) and if i got ripped off, i suppose I wouldn't have lost too much money.

  6. #6

    Default Re: how to authenticate WW2 maps?

    John,
    None of the maps I have except the silk ones are in color, with the exception of the maps I have for re-taking th Phillipeans and Monte Cassino in Italy. They are hand drawn Army Intellegence maps (very very cool). Would have been shown to McArthur and Patton in the battlefield. Those also had the actual battle plans for attacking the Japs and the Germans. They are curently being copied for the National Archives in Washington DC. I'll post them when I get them back. The one pictured looked fine except for the coloring. Not saying they didn't but all of the paper ones I have seen are black and white. Overall it looks authentic to me even from the bad photography.

    Burt

  7. #7
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    Default Re: how to authenticate WW2 maps?

    the maps you're describing are the items I'm basically looking for : operational maps - either for upchanneling info or for use by field commanders. Obviously those are hard to find and most likely out of my price range. I'd love to see yours when you get them back. Nice piece of history!

    by the way, how did you authenticate your maps? I imagine hand drawn maps could easily be faked? also, any other general guidelines not mentioned by grimebox?

  8. #8

    Default Re: how to authenticate WW2 maps?

    I found them in a WWII foot locker from a Army Intelligence Lt COL. It had all of his uniforms, medals and lots of Top Secret battle plans and maps. 100% authentic. Very cool find. I looked all over the internet and could not find any comperable documents or maps. I also have a bunch of documents on how to read Japanese Kanji ( WWII style) and interrogation phrases. I intend on making all of this available as soon as they get back to me. Also the folks helping me digitize all of this are going to release a new web site on Dec 7th. I'll post the link as soon as the site is ready. It will be one of the coolest sites for military history out there. They have been working on it for years.

    Burt

  9. #9

    Default Re: how to authenticate WW2 maps?

    I have seen plenty of WW2 maps printed in colour on paper or cloth backed paper! Here are three from my collection, one dated 1941 one dated 1942 and the other 1944. The 1944 dated map is printed on thick paper (slightly thicker than standard computer printer paper) and the other two are cloth backed paper.
    Two of the maps have pencil lines drawn on them (I guess as a flight plan), I think from the photographs of the maps you can see that they're original by their condition, however, simple things like checking where the pencil disappears on the creases and is underneath stains and dirty marks shows that they are original to the map. As with anything it is easier to authenticate when it is hand although I appriciate that you can't do that over the internet, if the price is right you sometimes have to take an educated gamble. In my experience maps aren't that overly expensive and quite often you get a better deal buying a bundle rather than individual maps. Remember on the whole map collectors are different to militaria collectors, they want clean crisp maps, not dirty maps with things written all over them so when checking sites like Ebay check the map section and not the militaria section.

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