Robert Augustyn Maps Westport

Many Westporters have seen the H. Bailey map of Westport.

Drawn in 1878, it’s an “aerial” view of the town. Every house, shop and church is shown, precisely where it was. It’s a fascinating view of a thriving village. Every time I see it, I learn something new — about the Westport of nearly 150 years ago, and how we got where we are today.

The 1878 map.

Robert Augustyn is an antique map dealer. He’s spent most of his professional life examining maps like these.

He’d planned to spend his life teaching English. But in the late 1970s, a job with a New York dealer he thought would be temporary turned into his passion.

Eventually he owned Martayan Lan, a New York City hub for collectors of maps, atlases, rare books and manuscripts from the 16th to 19th centuries.

But the market softened. When the lease ended last summer, Augustyn closed the gallery.

Robert Augustyn

He and his wife Katie have lived here for 25 years. She’s a very involved civic volunteer.

Now he had time to join the Y’s Men, mentor young people, and teach tennis through Bridgeport’s First Serve program.

Slowly too he developed his own antique map and fine prints business here. He built up inventory, created a website, and began selling online.

But it’s hardly impersonal. Just as he did in New York, Augustyn enjoys showing maps to clients, taking them through the many stories of each particular item.

After decades in the business, he still finds maps he never thought he’d see. One of his favorites — an early 18th century plan of New York City — is the first to show a synagogue. Only 3 such maps exist.

Fifteen years ago, Augustyn found an 1837 map. Drawn just 2 years after the official founding of our town, he believes it’s the first to show our “new” borders. It hangs in his study (and is available for purchase).

The 1837 map. Note the spelling of Cockenoe Island.

He’s also got the first printed map of Connecticut. It dates to 1758, when it appeared in an English magazine.

Among Augustyn’s prints: an engraving of Henry Richard Winslow’s “Compo House.” It was Westport’s first mansion (on the site of the park that now bears the owner’s name).

Richard Winslow’s Compo House.

He’s always on the lookout for “good Westport material.” It’s not easy to come by, he says.

His job is not easy, either. Which is why he’s a “rare” map and print dealer indeed.

9 responses to “Robert Augustyn Maps Westport

  1. Bob Weingarten

    I would like to add my thanks to what Robert has done for the history of Westport in the past. Ten yours age he was instrumental in assisting with a map exhibit at the Westport Historical Society. The exhibit was called Putting Westport on the Map: A look at our town through maps old and new. The exhibit ran from October 3, 2010 to January 8, 2011. Robert provided several antique maps for the exhibit.
    Several months later, Carles Reedy had found an 1812 map of Connecticut which included Green’s Farms Society, prior name of part of Westport. The map was in poor condition and Robert donated the funds to restore the map for the Westport Historic Society.
    So, thank you Robert.

  2. Dick Lowenstein

    Robert is also a dedicated Library book sale volunteer, especially when it comes to rare and valuable books. Working with him means I have some one who speaks my language in book slang and acronyms. I am no longer talking to myself!

  3. Bill Boyd SHS 66

    Great article… I think there would be some interest in reproductions (if possible) by residents past and present.

  4. Katie Augustyn

    Dan, thanks for the terrific article about my equally terrific husband!

  5. Isabelle Breen

    Don’t forget that Robert also wrote a book called Manhattan in Maps. Very nice profile Dan.

  6. James McDonald

    Thank you for publishing this interesting article about Robert, his map business and the town’s history including the Winslow’s home. Too bad the house does not exist anymore.

    James McDonald

  7. Robert is a quality guy. He knows his stuff, inside out. But I am surprised to learn that he thinks that quality Westport material is hard to come by. All of us who know him from the tennis court, what are we, chopped liver? Just kidding. Robert himself can be counted as quality Westport material!

    • Robert T. Augustyn

      Ah, I stand corrected. This comment could only have been written by that rarest of soul, Matthew Levine.