Upon removal of the frame, I found two old newspapers from "Rhodesia," now Zimbabwe. These were dated 1968 and one was from Christmas that year. On December 25, 1968 an Apollo mission was in progress, and this was the feature on the front page. The papers were intriguing and I actually put them on Ebay thinking they may be worth a few bucks. No bites from Ebay for the newspapers, so on to the art project.
After closer inspection of the chart I realised it was of Captain Cook's journeys so I decided to draw a picture of the Endeavor, his famous ship. I had gotten about this far, see the attached photo (a little further as some of my work is removed already), and one of my Aussie pals dropped by. Louise asked me if I had checked to see how old the chart was; I said it was at least dated 1968 and we took a look at the newspapers. Louise's family had also lived in Africa so the papers were fun to look at together. When Louise left she urged me to check on the age of the chart and I said, "sure, sure Louise" truly thinking that it would amount to nothing. Now we realise that Louise should probably work on Antiques Roadshow.
Lying on the couch that night, watching some brainless TV show, I typed the title of the chart into my iPad. Up pops a webpage with almost the same map, dated 1785, being sold for $3500. I bolted straight up on the couch and my stomach did some flip flops. I jumped up, turned on the lights, and looked at the chart... oops! All of a sudden the great idea of using this old map as a canvas felt like a very, very bad idea. At least I only used pencil! After reviewing multiple Google hits and finding another similar chart that had sold for a few thousand dollars I also found one copy of the same chart from the 1960's for sale- priced at $50. I exhaled a quick sigh of relief. My very next thought was, "how do you tell which ones are old?" I did a little more research and noticed that the older, original maps were a certain size. I measured the map on my table and it matched the older style; the ones worth the big bucks. Oops!
As you can imagine, I was now quite intrigued. I took some pictures of the map and emailed them to two different antique document dealers online. Within 48 hours I had two answers, one from Melbourne Australia and one from California. Both dealers informed me that the map was likely from the late 1700's and of course would be worth much more without the boat. Oops!
At this point I realised I needed to try to find out where it came from. After consulting a few of my yogi pals we came to the realisation that one of our fellow yoginis had donated the map. One day after yoga I let her know and you know what she said? Yep, good guess. "Oops!" and of course, "WOW!"
Last weekend, I drove up the coast to a market where a man was exhibiting old photos, maps, and more. I had gotten his name from the map dealer in Melbourne and I had set up a chance to have our yoga map validated once and for all. I walked through the market with the carefully protected treasure under my arm. It was pouring rain but many dealers were gamely showing their wares. When I found Edwin's stall, he and his wife eagerly but gently unrolled the old paper and he got out his magnifying glass. I found myself holding my breath, hoping it was really old and also hoping is wasn't, since I had admitted to being the idiot who drew on it.
After about a minute of examination, while still bent over the chart with his magnifying glass, Edwin says, "well it's definitely not 20th century." At first thought I figured he meant it's not very old, then he says, "it's definitely from the late 1700's and no later than 1810. OOPS!
(to be continued...)