I will never forget that map. It might actually be one of the oldest memories I have. My grandparents lived on Mt. Hood outside of Zig Zag, Oregon. When I visited their house as a child, the room where my brother and I would stay had a map of the world that covered the entire wall. I spent hours staring at it. Looking at the world with an open mind and curious imagination. It made me want to see the world.
My mother recently told me that my Grandpa Joe would have been thrilled about my passion for maps because he too was fascinated by them. He worked for NASA and The Department of Transportation before retiring to that house on Mt. Hood. He had small collection of other maps and lived out his days writing about helicopter aviation and the world around him. Beyond my fascination of maps, he inspired in me a travel bug that still resonates today.
For about twelve years I have been collecting maps. Trail maps, city maps, world maps, National Parks and road maps, really anything I find and think is interesting. I find them in thrift stores, antique shops, estate sales, Ebay and through other online collectors. I studied design in college and even dabbled in a couple cartography classes but I find the real thrill in stumbling upon them while I am out and about.
I really love the old ones, and that's the main reason we sell them. I love the inconsistencies, yet I am amazed how accurate they are given the limited technology the makers possessed. Beyond the maps themselves I love that the people that created made them were really just out on epic adventures making notes as they explored the wild world around them. I love that they are borrowed and iterated them over hundreds of years. I find it even more interesting when entire swaths of the maps are left blank because they just didn't know what was there. They instill a natural desire to go to that uncharted territory and see what's there (and what isn't there) for yourself.
I started Vitali Map Company so that I could share the maps I have found and hopefully inspire others to do the same. I truly believe these old maps are stories for your walls.
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-Tony Joe Vitali