Public domain maps are a really great source of material for making money.
The first thought that enters everyone's mind when thinking maps is just reprinting them in a variety of formats and selling them as reproductions. This is a very good way to earn an income from public domain maps. Prices you can charge vary based on type of paper being used and the size of the reproduction. Wide format reprints printed on archival papers or canvas can get as much as $100 or more at a reproduction cost of $20-$30 depending on materials and size of the print.
But reprinting maps is only one way that you can earn money in this lucrative field.
Aside from the standard idea of making prints or wide format prints of maps, there are many other great ways to earn an income from public domain maps.
1) You could print postcards of maps or particular scenes in maps. Many of the old maps are beautiful and have many fascinating scenes contained within them that would make excellent postcards or postcard sets. As an idea, you could make a postcard set of a popular tourist town, get them professionally printed and sell them to all the gift shops in that town.
2) You could make mousepads of maps. And with a service like cafepress (http://www.cafepress.com), you can completely automate the manufacturing and delivery. Lots of history buffs would love having an old map of their home town or of the Civil War or of any other notable period of history they fancy.
3) You could create compilations of related maps on a CD or DVD. Make collections of civil war maps, town maps for a particular state old gold mining maps, etc.
4) You could compile a collection of maps with descriptions into a book (and again use a service like cafepress to produce them on demand. ) If you've been in a bookstore, you will see these collections selling at a very good price. Popular topics for map books include war strategy maps and early exploration maps.
5) You could use the maps to build a variety of interesting screensavers. There are many free or low cost screensaver programs available to help you build your custom screensavers. You can sell the screensavers of offer them for a free download in return for building a mailing list or introducing people to your website.
6) If you are ambitious, you could use something like the old panoramic maps at the Library of Congress to build advertising pieces - like restaurant placements - for the towns that are represented in the collection. The map would be in the center with the ads around the edge.
7) You could produce any type of hardgood - mugs, t-shirts, etc. with map images. Cafepress offers a variety of items that you can print on. They even let you build your very own store where customers can shop. They do all the back office work and you collect a check based on your sales. So with Cafepress, you could build your very own map t-shirt and mug store if you wanted.
That is certainly enough ideas to help get your creative juices revved up to the non traditional possibilities of public domain map revenue opportunities.
One of the best sources of public domain maps is the Library of Congress: http://lcweb2. loc. gov/ammem/gmdhtml/gmdhome.html.
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