Editor’s Note: The following story was originally published on Dec. 9, 2019.
Chesterbrook resident David Mackey’s antique map hobby unexpectedly began at the Devon Horse Show in 1998, when Mackey, a commercial real estate agent who literally knows The Main Line like the back of his hand, stumbled upon an 1881 Pennsylvania Railroad map of Berwyn.
“I had grown up near Conestoga High School, and here was this old railroad map of Berwyn that suddenly fascinated me,” said Mackey, now 61. “It was my 40th birthday, and I was there with my mother. She asked me if I wanted it as a birthday present.”
Ever since then, Mackey has been collecting antique maps, as well as farm and railroad atlases, a passion he shares through his hobby business, Malvern Maps. Malvern Maps has the largest selection of antique Main Line and Chester County maps, taken directly from original atlases. His inventory includes high-quality township and borough maps, as well as historic Pennsylvania Railroad maps. Each original map is individually shrink-wrapped and handled with care. Since most of the maps are taken directly from atlases, the original hand-color and condition are well-preserved, in excellent condition.
“Although I’ve had a few over time, I simply won’t sell tattered maps,” Mackey said.
Today, Malvern Maps offers original Chester County maps from 1873 and 1883 farm atlases and original maps of the Main Line from 1908-1912 Pennsylvania Railroad atlases.
“At the present time, with several different atlases, I can now offer original antique maps of every township and borough in Chester County, and can locate many of the old historic homes and estates on The Main Line, including all train stations along today’s R5,” Mackey said.
Since he no longer has a map shop as he once did on King Street in Malvern, Mackey operates out of his Chesterbrook home, and often meets folks at a local Starbucks or their office. Mackey’s wares would make a great Christmas gift for the collector in your life, or would look good in your den/office.
“These maps help you appreciate the history of our area,” he said. “There’s so much rich history here along The Main Line, with Valley Forge and Chesterbrook and throughout Chester County. It’s hard not to embrace it.”
Over the years, Mackey has acquired his maps and atlases through word of mouth, antique bookstores, auctions, and estate sales.
“Four years ago, I received an e-mail inquiry, as I often do, from a woman in Berks County,” he said. “She had a Chester County farm atlas I was interested in. She met me on a Sunday morning in an empty parking lot at the King of Prussia Mall in late July. No one was around. She opened her trunk, I looked it over, and gave her the cash. I can only imagine what the scene would have looked like to someone else.”
Interestingly, in 1873, Witmer published maps of Chester County municipalities that identified prominent landowners and their respective occupations. In 1883, Breou created the first township and borough maps showing individual property lines and identifying building locations and types. Mackey now possesses several atlases, and each original map each is in pristine condition. In addition to a private collection of Mid-Atlantic regional maps from the 1700s and 1800s, his current inventory totals more than 400 Chester County and Main Line originals available for sale, each reasonably priced from $100-450. While the Malvern Maps website doesn’t show or list all of the available maps, it gives a good idea of what is generally available. Inquiries and special requests are always welcome.
“With several atlases acquired in recent years, I can usually sell you an original map for less than a framed repro nearby,” he said. “If it takes me 10-15 years to sell them, it doesn’t matter, as long as I can share the passion. They are only becoming more rare and valuable. If we don’t appreciate these now, future generations might lose the passion or the intrigue. These maps help us all understand, appreciate, and preserve our local history!”
Mackey recently secured a booth at the prestigious 38th Annual Chester County Antiques & Art Show, which will be held at the Church Farm School from March 13-15, 2020. (This show was cancelled.)
“I’ve done some smaller shows in the past, but this will be the finest venue I’ve had the privilege to participate in,” he said. “I’ll be showcasing a rare 1822 map of Chester County, which will be available for sale.”
At that time, he also plans to unveil several rare folding maps and rare books of local history, including churches and schools, and the history of The Main Line.
In the interim few months, Mackey plans to continue to explore old maps – and new opportunities in real estate, his other passion.
Click here to learn more about Malvern Maps or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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