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NEWS AND COMMENTS - 1991

Changes This Year

The only major change is the reappearance of the zip-code listing of U.S. dealers.  The space taken up by the price listing and book reviews fluctuates from year to year, and occasionally there is enough room for the zip listing.  It is handy for locating dealers when travelling.  Enjoy it while you can. I should also apologize to those who tried to order the Price Record towards the end of last year.  Demand was unexpectedly high.  I have increased the press run this year.

Disaster Befalls Hereford Cathedral Map

It will be remembered from 1989 that Hereford Cathedral's 13th-century world map was to be auctioned off to raise money to support the cathedral.  This raised the exciting prospect that the map would end up over a mantle in the apartment of a Wall Street investment banker, perhaps flanked by Picassos.  Alas, the map was deprived of this charming domestic existence as a conversation piece, and will now be imprisoned in its own sterile archive.  The British Government and J.P. Getty Jr. contributed $4.8 million to keep the thing in England.  Ironically, the map is now to be in the hands of an independent trust, and the cathedral, after all the to-ing and fro-ing, is still where it was, pretty much broke.

Place Name Update

Communist place names are disappearing so fast that it is hard to keep up.  In East Germany (itself disappearing) the residents of Karl Marx Stadt voted 3-1 to restore the name to Chemnitz.  In the USSR, residents of Leningrad are debating whether the city should become St. Petersburg or Petrograd.  In Yugoslavia, the eight cities with Tito in their name all have de-Titoization committees to restore their old names.  Even Mongolians are talking about getting rid of the name Ulan Bator, which means red hero.  Many cities are named after the likes of Stalin, Lenin, and Hoh Chi Minh, but these are aliases, which communist leaders adopt like any other criminal element.  There is something bizarre about naming a city after an alias.

Apostrophes an Endangered Species

For a century the U.S. Board on Geographic Names has been waging all-out war on the apostrophe.  That is why Pike's Peak is officially Pikes Peak.  Still clinging bravely to its apostrophe is Martha's Vineyard, though how long it can hold out no one knows.  Something in the bureaucratic mentality abhors any sort of disorder.  They would rather be ungrammatical than put up with those pesky apostrophes.

Hyphen Also under Siege

Citizens of the former Czechoslovak Socialist Republic are near blows about what their country should be named. Slovaks are insisting on the hyphenated Czecho-Slovakia to emphasize their co-equal status.  (By the way, they hate being called Czechs when abroad, so watch out.)  Though the treaties ending World War I used a hyphen, the Czech Masaryk dropped it in 1921, starting seven decades of Slovak irritation.  The current Parliament has changed the name several times.  The latest version, The Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, solves the hyphen problem, but grates on the ears.  Havel's suggestion, Czecho-Slovak Republic, was rejected by Czechs because of the hyphen, and Slovaks because Federation was omitted.  In other hyphen news, Seven-Fingered Jack Mountain in Washington also just lost its hyphen, but as far as I know, nobody has gotten very excited over that change.

Vile Names Obliterated

Many US place names offend and are being eliminated as quickly as possible.  For example, Nigger Creek, Texas was renamed Negro Creek a few years ago.  Now that Negro has become offensive, it is to be renamed again, but no one can decide what would be appropriate.  The NAACP wants to use a list of prominent black Texans as substitutes, but some consider this political renaming.  Names containing Jap and Chinaman are also being eliminated.  In a welcome setback to political renaming, the mayor of Austin was rebuffed when he tried to have Town Lake renamed Lady Bird Lake.  She modestly declined, and rose greatly in my esteem.

Canada Vanishes!

Oops! Not this year! Let me just save this section on disk . . .  There!  What with Meech Lake, French separatism, and Indian uprisings, I was all set to welcome the disintegrated dominion into the USA.  Well, my comments are safe on disk, to be retrieved when needed. I wonder whether the provinces will retain their names and boundaries when they join the Union.  A small minority of Canadians are less than enthusiastic about becoming part of the US, perhaps because they feel that Americans do not appreciate Canada's unique history and traditions.  But quite the contrary is true.  I still remember vividly my history lessons from schoolboy days.  We covered all the highlights of Canadian history from Canada's founding by disgruntled American loyalists and the glorious American victories at Queenston Heights and Lundy's Lane to the adventures of the Fenian Fraternal-assistance Forces and the gallant exploits of Louis Riel.

MISCELLANY: Those interested in the Vinland Map controversy will want to read an article beginning on p.106 of Manhattan, Inc. for April 1990, which provides information about Walter McCrone, who pronounced the thing a fake. An 1860s map of San Diego, said to be one of five commissioned by Alonzo Horton, fetched $5300 in April at auction, according to a clipping sent by Dick Cloward of Pacific Shore Maps.  Though sometimes looked down upon, 19th-century American maps are often as rare and valuable as choice 17th-century Dutch maps.

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, £28 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 9 (1991).
 

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