Success on Paper: Story #1 – Red River Paper Brings History to Life
Welcome to Success on Paper, our series highlighting businesses from around the country with at least one thing in common: Red River Paper. From architectural firms to printing retailers, companies that depend on impeccable paper quality and creative customer service are relying on RRP to help them present their work in beautiful, compelling ways.
First up in the series: The Historic Map Company of Lafayette, Louisiana.
A Bright Future in History
David Begneaud and his wife, Alice, have always loved maps and the stories they tell. They collected these historic works of art for years before opening The Historic Map Company in Lafayette, Louisiana. While he learned how to edit and print himself, David outsourced the printing. But he kept running into two problems: color consistency and paper quality.
Enter Red River Paper
“My prints with the Epson P800 use the easily accessible profiles already created by Red River Paper, however, Red River developed for us some custom color profiles for a Canon TA-20 printer which helped us overcome several issues,” says David. “I now print maps using Red River products, and always explain to the customer that they are getting a map printed on high-quality paper, unlike some online maps. I let them feel the paper and they are impressed.” David’s favorite RRP papers are Aurora Art Natural, Aurora Art White, Polar Matte 60, and Blanco Matte Canvas.
See More of Historic Map Company’s Work
Visit Historic Map Company’s Facebook page to see David’s meticulously crafted maps. Read our Q&A below to learn about his upcoming new product launch, the most interesting map he’s ever seen, and how one of his maps was courtroom evidence in a land boundary case.
Enjoy our Q&A with David Begneaud of Historic Map Company…
1. How long has The Historic Map Company been in business, and how did you get started?
My wife Alice and I have been in business for 10 years. I was completing the renovation of an older historic building with intentions of renting it out. After collecting maps for years, we got the idea to turn it into a small map shop. We first started out with reprints of historic maps and a smaller number of original maps. I was outsourcing my printing for years as I was learning the art of editing and printing. My main challenge with outsourcing was consistency with the colors, very similar to what many artists encounter with their prints. The colors may vary from one run to the next and the papers used early on were mainly thin drafting or bond paper and matte photo type papers that added unwanted gloss to the image. Eventually I sourced picture framing equipment and the skills necessary to do custom framing. We are now members of The Professional Picture Framers Association (PPFA).
2. Tell us a little about what product or service your business offers.
We offer several varieties of maps ranging from the 1700s through the 1950s, consisting of the United States, individual states, parishes, counties, cities, coastal charts, Civil War, foreign countries, political maps, etc.
3. What makes your business unique?
I do custom sourcing of maps for customers who are looking for a map of a particular geographic area. I research various resources and locate a unique map for them, edit the map to a particular size, edit the colors, clean up the borders to make the framing process smoother, and offer it as an unframed or custom-framed fine print. I have over 1,000 maps in my database and approximately 100 different maps that are repeat sellers, such as the early 1800s Louisiana maps.
4. From where do you source your raw materials (maps, frames, etc.)?
I spend a lot of research time on our state’s historic records database for early 1800s land plats, Library of Congress, U.S. Archives, etc. I have a library of older original maps digitally scanned that are edited and used in our process. The frame mouldings and materials are exclusively from AMPF Inc. I package them in Clearbags folders and also use Clearmount graphic grade shrink film on black foam board. The Red River Aurora Art Natural and White, along with Polar Matte 60, are my choices for papers. I have also had some great prints with the Blanco Matte Canvas.
5. In what ways does the business reflect your own personality?
The business started out as an advanced hobby, so I tend to keep working on a map until it is perfect in my eyes. While researching a map for a customer, I will often learn amazing bits of history about that particular area and time period. Personally, Alice and I are involved with several nonprofit organizations, donating both time and maps for fundraising events. This occasionally leads to new business.
6. Who is your typical customer?
Typically my customers are in the mid-30s to 60s age groups. The majority are women buying maps as gifts or decorating their homes; men usually buy for themselves. Interior decorators are discovering the map shop. Before they make a purchase, I offer to let them take numerous maps to their on-site projects to see how the maps will work into their design.
7. What is the most interesting map you’ve encountered?
The Mississippi River Flood of 1927 map, as it is a large image showing the dates and locations of the levee failures from Illinois to Louisiana.
8. What has Red River Paper done for your business? Is there a particular challenge RRP has helped you overcome, or a goal they helped you meet?
I now print the maps using Red River products and always explain to the customer that they are getting a map printed on high-quality paper, unlike some online maps. I let them feel the paper and they are impressed. When someone sees an old Civil War map printed on Aurora Art with deckled edges float mounted in a rustic wood frame, sometimes they will ask if it’s an original 1863 map.
9. What do you appreciate most about Red River Paper’s products/services?
I have readily received technical assistance numerous times. Their ordering system is perfect, and I receive my items within two days for a very small shipping fee. Browsing the online “resources” section is my favorite pastime, as I enjoy learning tips and tricks about the industry.
10. How can people purchase your products/services?
Our shop is open by chance or appointment. Alice manages the map shop Facebook page and customers contact us on that platform. Our webpage will be rebuilt in a few months. We also participate in various juried art events and historical events.
11. Do you have any future growth, product launch, or event goals you’d like to share? We are currently in the process of designing some nice map note cards using various maps printed on 60-pound Red River Polar Matte and Aurora Art papers. We recently ran our first ad in a small regional shopping guide publication and will budget for marketing consultation. In addition, we are planning on posting a series of historical maps, featuring their historical significance of the shaping of our country and states.
12. Is there a special story or testimonial from one of your customers you’d like to share?
One of our maps is a reprint of an 1863 Civil War map of the Atchafalaya Basin Swamps during a time period when the Union soldiers were advancing through South Louisiana. Someone saw this map in our map shop during the time that he was involved in a land boundary legal case. This particular map was instrumental in the courtroom to prove his case about the existence of a waterway that was assumed to have not been in existence until the 1970s. He proved his point with the map, thus prevailing in the case. Many other maps have “rediscovered” long-forgotten history about time periods when Louisiana was governed by Native Americans, France, Spain, England, and finally the United States.