In 1926, a research chemist named Charles Promislo accidentally spilled a beaker of chemicals on his laboratory table and left the mess to clean up in the morning. By the next day, the spilled liquids had soaked through some papers. The papers had reacted in a strange way, for each sheet was aged, and wrinkled much like parchment. Being something of a history buff Mr. Promislo was particularly intrigued by his discovery.
He devoted several years to perfecting his unique 11- step paper ageing process. Some 20 years or so later a chance meeting occurred with one Victor Mort. Mr. Mort from England was also something of an historian. He hit upon the wonderful idea of publishing old and historic maps and applying the parchment ageing process to each one. So it was that Porter Prints was born in the mid-1950’s operating from the city of York in England.
Victor Mort was fortunate in that he acquired an original John Speed atlas – The Theatre & Empire of Great Britain published in 1610. Carefully reproduced and individually treated Speed’s old world maps almost came to life! The combination of John Speed’s masterpieces and Promislo’s parchment paper technique was, and still is to this day quite unique. Steve Roberts & Lauren Tillotson acquired Porter Prints in the early ’90’s and from a shed in a Cornish fishing village this heritage gift range from THE OLD MAP COMPANY™ was born.
Some few years back and a million maps later tastes have changed along with printing technology and whilst we very much enjoyed supplying those much liked ‘parchment replicas’ on a wholesale basis to to an enviable customer base throughout the UK, including such world famous heritage sites as York Minster, Edinburgh Castle & The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich along with many independent outlets to whom we shall be ever grateful for their support, we felt it was time to curtail that side of our operation.
In the 21st century Giclée art printing developments bought state of the art colour reproduction to exceptional new levels of quality and became a natural match to our collection of maps. This enables us to create reproductions of a quality indistinguishable from the original pieces.
The Old Map Company; still a family operation, takes pride in producing these wonderful examples of early cartographer’s stunning creations to standards worthy of any museum or gallery exhibit. Each and every print produced now receives the personal attention of the proprietors and the goals of preserving England’s history and educating people about our nation’s rich heritage, remain just the same as those of Charles Promislo, Victor Mort and indeed the great John Speed himself. So some thirty years on as long as we are able to eke out a humble existence, the delight and praise we receive from our customers is our real reward.