(CNN) -- Maps can be beautiful and good ones can be great investments.
But what collectors often find most entrancing about maps are how they provide portals into history.
The rise and fall of cities, the charting of war and adventure, the promise of riches through trade ... history continues to be rewritten according to scholars' reinterpretations of ancient cartography.
John Selden's 17th-century map of China made a huge splash recently as the stimulus for two new books analyzing London's rise as an economic hub (the city's success is inextricably linked to trade with China, as the Selden map illustrates).
According to some experts, the current unprecedented volume of global travel is also contributing to a burgeoning interest in map collecting.
"I believe that as people travel more, migrate more and speak more languages, and as business becomes more globalized, the appeal of two types of attachment to the idea of 'place' increases," says Daniel Crouch, a London based specialist of antique maps and atlases.
"One, as an identification with, or memory of, a place or homeland left behind, and the other as a statement of a new 'home' or adopted country, or fondness for a land visited."
Crouch reveals some fascinating map facts gathered from a lifetime of collecting and selling antique maps, and shares favorites from his most recent exhibition in Hong Kong featuring maps of China.
7 things to know about maps
1. It's still possible to have your own world-class map collection
Even the wealthiest collectors of old master or impressionist paintings, Chinese ceramics or modern art can never hope to have collections of a quality to match the likes of the Louvre, the British Museum or the Met.
However, that's not true of maps.
The savvy collector can still buy maps or atlases as good as, and sometimes better than, those found in the world's major libraries and museums.
"We have several items in our gallery that are at least as good, if not better, than the equivalent examples in, say, the Bibliotheque Nationale, the British Library or Library of Congress," says Crouch, whose gallery keeps approximately 250 maps and 50 atlases in stock at any one time.
2. "BRIC" nations are hot right now
Antique maps featuring the world's biggest developing countries have seen a recent spike in prices.
According to Crouch this heightened interest can be linked to the recently increased inbound and outbound travel from these countries.
"Maps of B.R.I.C. nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have seen the fastest growing markets (and prices) in recent years," says Crouch.
"I have also noticed an increased interest in 'thematic' and 19th and even early 20th century mapping," he says.
"Many of what we now regard as the major institutional collections of cartography were actually put together by individuals in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the United Kingdom, the best collection of such material was made by King George III."
The latter collection is known as the "K.Top," and can be found in the British Library.