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NEWS AND COMMENTS - 1989

New Appearance

The book has been redesigned to take advantage of a new font set which has become available.  The new fonts have the European Common Market character set, giving things like à á â ã ä and å, and in a few different sizes ô ô Ô Ô.  The price listing section is, I think, more readable.  The typestyle for the alphabetical title index is slightly compressed from last year, allowing two more characters in the title.  The typography of the geographical index has also been revamped. However, like any good thing, there is a penalty.  Whatever what one may have thought about the former typestyle for the price listings, it did have the virtue of cramming a lot of maps into the allotted space.  Fewer listings can now be crammed into the same space, reducing the total listings from a little over 5,000 to a little over 4,000.  This reduction has come mostly at the expense of the very inexpensive maps.

Other Changes

A French dictionary has been added.  By popular demand, and also because space was available, the zip code listing of U.S. dealers has reappeared.  It is quite handy for travellers, who can use that listing to locate dealers in any area they are visiting.  A minor change has been made in the Münster listings.  Since these titles are so variable, it is often difficult to locate all maps of, say, America.  The continent and world maps are therefore collected together at the beginning of the Minister listing.  The geographical index has had a few changes made in the way the world is divided, Canada being awarded its own major heading, for example.  A few glitches in the geographical indexing program have been corrected.

Back Issues Gone

All back volumes except for Volume 2 (1984) are sold out.  Like Volume 1, the 1984 listing was done by dot matrix printing.  That volume does contain over 5,000 listings with a title index, and is just as useful, informationally, as the others.  I have slightly increased the quantity printed this year, but users should be aware that back volume availability cannot be relied upon.

For the Collector Who Has Everything

One often looks through books on maps not giving a second thought to actually owning some of the famous and rare manuscript maps illustrated.  For example, who could ever hope to own the Hereford World Map (Plate XXIV in Bagrow & Skelton's History of Cartography).  This map of circa 1290, measuring 165 by 134 centimeters, give or take a wrinkle or two, is scheduled to be auctioned in June 1989.  Hereford cathedral is teetering on bankruptcy and the mappa mundi could fetch about $5 million.  It might be just as well to get it out of there, as British cathedrals are becoming dangerous places now that Anglican doctrine is becoming more liberal.  On 6 July 1984 David Jenkins was consecrated as Bishop of Durham in York Minster cathedral to the accompaniment of much controversy, as he had earlier cast doubts on the virgin birth and the resurrection.  Three days after the ceremony, a mysterious bolt of lightning set the south transept ablaze, destroying much of the interior.  Widespread speculation that this was a sign of displeasure from higher authority was bolstered when it was discovered that a home in Nailsea had been blasted by a bolt a year earlier, just after a meeting had been concluded planning Billy Graham's itinerary.  These events seem to have frightened clerics into toning down their liberal utterances, but should they resume, no wall hanging in an Anglican cathedral will be safe.

Portions of England Vanish!

The book review section describes a recent publication called Lost Lands and Sunken Cities.  Apparently, within historical times, many coastal communities in Britain have been washed into the sea.  The author uses old maps and records to revive memory of these vanished towns.

Portions of Russia Reappear!

Russian cartographers now admit to deliberately falsifying maps of that land to deceive foreigners.  Long lost rivers and towns have begun to reappear.  Apparently little deception was actually taking place, since the most accurate map of Moscow is one published by the C.IA. for the use of embassy employees.  Several years ago, the World Psychiatric Association expelled Russia's All-Union Society of Psychiatrists and Neuropathologists for phony diagnosing of dissidents.  Since deliberately issuing false maps is the cartographical equivalent, it is sad that the international cartographic organizations did not take similar action against Russian cartographers.  Having even less guts than a bunch of shrinks is something to be ashamed of.

Portions of Canada Vanish! (continued)

Last year under this heading I should have made it clear that I do not object to the gathering of data from Indian cultures before they are exterminated.  Such data is quite valuable scientifically (and legally, as the Tasaday lawsuit shows).  For those interested in this topic a Canadian has sent me an article from Saturday Night (April 1988) detailing the abysmal treatment of native peoples in Canada and Resolutions of the Native Geographical Names Committee which appeared in the December 1986 issue of Canoma.  The latter shows the great care and diligence being taken in gathering these names.  All I object to is ...

Political Renaming

One of the lesser flaws of totalitarian governments is a propensity for renaming places in tune with the political winds of the moment.  The most egregious example is the Russian Empire, where perfectly good traditional names have been changed to the likes of Heroes of Cement Brigade Number Six Street.  And unlucky are the villages that have anything to do with any recently deceased Russian leader.  Even democracies succumb.  During the Great War, Canadians changed the name of Berlin, Ontario to Kitchener (Take that! You Huns), and, for good measure, abolished the teaching of German in schools (and that!).  I enjoy the anarchy of place names in the United States.  On can see, just by glancing at a map, the influences of various cultures. In Massachusetts (Indian), many place names are English, while in Louisiana (King Lewis) one finds French names.  In the southwest, Spanish names predominate.  Throughout are Indian names.  In Alaska, we even have the ultimate un-name Nome.  Perhaps, some year, when the federal bureaucracy has trouble thinking up things to do, a project will be established to rename U.S. places, starting alphabetically on the west coast.

Map Confiscators Gearing Up!

It will be recalled from last year Chicago politicians denounced the square-rigged ship, a favorite decoration on maps, as "emblematic of the approach of white man's civilization and commerce."  I speculated that collectors might someday have their collections seized as an offense to community standards.  Within months, news came of the seizure by pistol-packing police of a painting from a private exhibit in Chicago.  The painting, by an artist of the Iconoclastic School, portrayed the obese deceased mayor, Harold Washington, in ladies underwear.  The pigment quickly hit the fan, and the painting was "arrested."  Evidently Chicago's finest administered a little street justice to the painting, for it was damaged while in custody.  Ironically, these strange events mean that the painting was an enormous success, since the Iconoclastic School tries to expose irrational, deeply rooted, and sometimes unrecognized beliefs.  Even more ironically, about a thousand years ago the original Iconoclasts damaged another artwork, the Madaba mosaic map.  Perhaps in another thousand years the pendulum will swing back, and the Iconoclasts will return to their appropriate function as perpetrators, not victims.

Recent Trends in Mapping Technology

The U.S. Geological Survey has invented a new thematic map.  By using the latest computer technology, maps can be generated showing the probability that a given location will be used for growing marijuana.  Factors such as land ownership, water, angle of sunlight, and slope of terrain are crunched together to generate these maps.  A law-enforcement officer need merely glance at the isocannabial contours to pinpoint likely targets for raids.

Periodicals of Interest to Map Collectors

The Map Collector. Published quarterly, with articles on early maps and map collecting, and also advertisements by dealers. Map Collector Publications, Ltd., 48 High St., Tring, Hertfordshire HP23 5BH, England, £23 per year.

Mapline. A quarterly newsletter with brief articles, news of the map world, and reviews of books. Mapline, The Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St., Chicago, IL 60610, $8 per year.

AB Bookman’s Weekly now has one issue per year devoted to cartography, travels & exploration. Box AB, Clifton, NJ 07015.

David C. Jolly
Appeared in Volume 7 (1989).
 

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