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News and Comments - 2007

With Volume 22 the Price Record has added 8,028 new records (the largest addition ever for a single AMPR volume), bringing the total number of records to 113,658. The new records draw on 57 different catalogues from 30 different dealers and auction houses. As with the last two volumes, new auction records somewhat outnumber new dealer records (69% of the new records are auction results). Since the Price Record did not include any auction data for the first 13 volumes, the overall preponderance of data records still remains heavily weighted towards dealers: 79.5% dealer records; 20.5% auction records.

New! A Map Collection Manager

This year's volume of the AMPR adds a major new feature, the Map Collection Manager. This feature allows you to use the AMPR to manage your own map collection, and lets you access your own data with many of the same features that you already use for the AMPR historical data: searching, sorting, viewing, printing, linking to images, etc., etc. The Map Collection Manager (MCM) is a full-functioned database for managing the information about your map collection, and, unlike spreadsheets, general-purpose database software, or even generic software packages for handling data about collections, the MCM is customized for map collections and it integrates tightly with the AMPR.

The Macintosh Version of the AMPR

The Map Collection Manager is implemented only for the Windows version of the AMPR. The Macintosh users of the AMPR might, understandably, be unhappy about this. I certainly have no intention of making the Mac users of the AMPR feel like second-class citizens, but Apple has made changes in the last few years that have put me and my customers in an awkward spot. The Mac version of the AMPR is a "Classic" Mac application; in other words it runs under the older Mac operating system, OS 9. When Apple first introduced its newer, Unix-based operating system, OS X, it maintained support for the many older OS 9 programs out there, by including OS 9 functionality along with the newer OS X system. This way buyers of new OS X Macs could still run OS 9 programs.

Recently Apple has changed its tune. Along with a shift to Intel microprocessors on many Mac models, Apple has stopped supporting OS 9. Therefore newer Macs are unable to run the AMPR program (or any other OS 9-based Mac programs). Only about 10% of the AMPR customers are on Macs, and now, with each passing year, as Mac users upgrade to newer machines, fewer and fewer of these Mac users are able to run the Mac version of the AMPR. For technical reasons that aren't worth going into here, the time and cost of producing an OS X-based version of the AMPR would far exceed any possible additional revenue this would produce. There is simply no business case that I can make to justify doing an OS X version. Therefore I have decided not to invest further effort in upgrading the Mac version, which is why I haven't moved the Map Collection Manager to the Mac.

There is a silver lining to the cloud that Apple has thrown over the OS 9 world: The newer Intel-based Macs are capable of running not only OS X, but also a Windows operating system, and, thereby, Windows-based programs. In fact, with some third party software (Parallels is perhaps the best-known, though Apple itself provides its own version of Windows support) users can run Windows applications side-by-side with Macintosh applications on their Intel-based Macs. Doing this makes it possible to run the Windows version of the AMPR on a Mac. I have customers currently doing this and they have reported that this works very, very well.

Because of the state of affairs with Apple, and the withdrawal of its OS 9 support, I have decided that the last Macintosh version of the AMPR will be Vol. 23. So this year and next year there will still be a Mac version of the AMPR (though without the Map Collection Manager). After that users will need to migrate to the Windows version, either using virtualizing software (Parallels, or the equivalent) on their Macs or, if they have access to a Windows machine, by switching to the Windows platform for running the AMPR. (I will gladly supply a Windows copy of the AMPR, at no charge, to any customer who has the current Mac AMPR edition.) I apologize for this, but I really don't see a viable alternative.

Other Topics

Additional reference images have been added in the new volume (both for new records and for existing records). Nearly 13,500 of the database records now have associated image links. The set of map image collections referenced includes:

  • Library of Congress - American Memory
  • David Rumsey Map Collection
  • Harvard Map Collection
  • National Library of Australia
  • National Maritime Museum (Greenwich)
  • Boston Public Library (Norman B. Leventhal Map Center)
  • A private collection

Over the year I received several reports of problems with people trying to access images from the Rumsey collection. Access to the Rumsey images is much more complicated, in terms of what hoops the software jumps through to call up an image, than for the other collections. The reported problems are most common when users use Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) as their web browser. Problems are less frequent with Firefox or Netscape. I have had several interchanges with the folks who provide technical support for the David Rumsey site, but so far they have not provided any real solutions. I will continue to try to get them to make access to the Rumsey Collection from the AMPR (or, for that matter, from any other software application that wants to bring up a Rumsey map from another program), working on a more solid footing.

More extensive information about the AMPR's use of reference images was provided in last year's News & Comments.

Map news in 2006 continued to be somewhat dominated by the story of E. Forbes Smiley III and the extensive map thefts that he perpetrated. By the end of 2006 this story was finally winding up, and early in 2007 Smiley began serving the 3-1/2 year sentence handed down in Federal court as a consequence of his plea bargaining agreement. The trailing edge of this story will, no doubt, continue on for quite some time: Libraries will struggle with other missing maps that may or may not have been stolen by Smiley (but which were not included in the thefts he acknowledged), as well as with the cost and time that they now realize they must invest in heightened security; some dealers will struggle with the financial consequences of having handled material that originated with Smiley, and for which they reimbursed collectors who returned stolen maps, but for which they will likely never see any recompense from Smiley; collectors will struggle with a world in which one rogue dealer can play havoc with the ethics of collecting. The entire community involved in map collecting and the map trade will not quickly forget the foul smell that this entire affair engendered, and not forgetting is probably a very good thing. (No doubt one or more books will be published on Smiley and his map thefts, and this should help the issues to stay in people's minds.)

In the 2003 edition of the CD-ROM (Vol. 18) I included a number of graphs, based on the AMPR database, showing things like price trends, frequencies of listing by map-makers, etc. Though I never heard any direct feedback on these, I have brought copies of the graphs to the Miami Map Fair each year, and visitors to my booth often seem to take an interest in these pictures. Therefore I have updated these graphs, and added a few new ones. Click on the following links to see these graphs:

Mean Prices over Time
Median Prices over Time
Overall Price Distribution by Year
Number of Records by Year - Dealers vs. Auctions
Most Represented Map-Makers
Prices by Age of Map

Jeremy Pool - March, 2007

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