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By Kara Pound
Photos by Alexis Rhodes
From an antique Pony Express map dated 1860 highlighting the mail delivery service’s Atlantic to Pacific Coast route, to various topography illustrations of Caribbean Islands, Bouvier Maps & Print on Aviles Street has been offering hard-to-find antique maps, prints and books for nearly two decades.
Established in January of 1998 by John Bouvier, a native Floridian and self-professed “book lover,” the shop caters to both locals and visitors who are looking for that perfect gift for the person who has everything, or a home décor item brimming with personality.
“When I was in my late thirties, someone gave my father a very old map of Florida and I thought it was the coolest thing,” says Bouvier. “I started visiting map stores in Savannah and Charleston and collecting my own. Eventually, I decided to open my own shop and St. Augustine seemed like the perfect place.”
Bouvier found that his biggest obstacle was a lack of knowledge when customers requested everything from state maps to turn-of-the-century sheet music – items ranging from $25 to thousands.
“People would come in and ask me questions about certain things, and I didn’t know the answer,” he says. “I’d start to research and find out the answers to these questions and that is how I learned the tricks of the trade. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”
Along with antique maps, Bouvier also sells prints in a variety of subject matter including botanical, military, fashion, and fish and insects as well as rare books, religious pages from the Bible, Torah and Quran, and handcrafted knives by Dennis Conkey and Kevin Hoffman.
“I’m the oldest continuously operated shop on Aviles Street,” says Bouvier. “I spend my time collecting and researching old maps, which is my passion. I feel pretty fortunate to get to do it in St. Augustine, a place I started visiting as a child growing up in Florida.”
Bouvier Maps & Print