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NEWS & COMMENTS - 1985
In this third annual edition, a slight change has been made in the title, replacing Price Guide with Price Record. The term Guide implies that the prices are somehow suggested prices. Collectors' Handbook has become simply Handbook since most buyers are dealers and libraries. Other changes have been made that, it is hoped, will be viewed as improvements. The price listings have been reproduced by a different process for improved readability. At the suggestion of a user, the catalog codes and currency conversion table have been moved to the back for quicker reference. Your editor, who despises the everyday use of the metric system with every fiber of his being, was delighted at the number of users who have suggested that dimensions be given in inches. This was the most frequent user comment, and approximate dimensions in inches have now been added, although metric units have been retained because of their use in other references. For the convenience of the many English purchasers, prices now appear in both pounds and dollars. The price listings are, of course, entirely new. The detailed statistical data given in the previous editions have been omitted since there was no user comment whatever. Compiling such data dulls the spirit and tires the mind. If no one wants the information, I say good riddance. The information on relative scarcity has been retained, however, and is now based on over 15,000 maps. Although it has not quite caught up to the price listings, the dictionary has been improved, and will be lengthened next year. The dealer directory has also been updated.
Some readers may be familiar with Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, a book published in 1966 by Charles Hapgood. He pointed out that portolan charts are too accurate to be medieval products, and noted that the ubiquitous Terra Australis on early world maps closely resembles the outline of Antarctica, supposedly unknown at the time. This led him to hypothesize an early advanced civilization capable of accurate worldwide mapping. A paper in EOS, the Transactions of the American Geophysical Union (August 28, 1984), suggests the same thing, although curiously there appears to be no reference to Hapgood's work. The paper is illustrated with various maps, including the Munster America and the Mercator double-cordiform world. There is a strange discussion about whether these maps were really printed in the 16th century, or were done in the 19th century after Antarctica had been discovered. An article about the EOS paper and Hapgood's book appears in the September 25, 1984, New York Times. Map buffs interested in a little light reading might wish to peruse this material. Who knows? There might really be something to it.
While on the topic of extremely old maps, what may be the oldest map yet discovered has been found in the Ukraine. It is scratched on mammoth-ivory, itself an indicator of considerable age. Stratigraphic evidence and radiocarbon dating suggest an age of about 15,000 years. The map, if map it be, is thought to show a settlement, a forest, and a nearby river. Apparently, the idea of mapping arises quite spontaneously. For an illustration of the map, see the November 1984 Scientific American.
Readers may wish to subscribe to Mapline, published by the Newberry Library. This is a quarterly newsletter with articles, news of the map world, and reviews of recently published books. The rate is $5.00 per year from Mapline, The Newberry Library, 60 West Walton Street, Chicago, IL 60610.
David C. Jolly
Appeared in Volume 3 (1985).
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