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News and Comments - 2008

With Volume 23 the Price Record has added 7,029 new records, bringing the total number of records to 120,687. The new records draw on 62 different catalogues from 30 different dealers and auction houses. As with the last three volumes, new auction records outnumber new dealer records (75% 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: 76.3% dealer records; 23.7% auction records.

Improvements to the Map Collection Manager

Last year's edition of the AMPR added the Map Collection Manager, a new feature that allows you to catalog your own map collection. Thanks to user feedback, a number of enhancements have been added to the Map Collection Manager for this year's edition of the CD. The most important of these new features is full image support, allowing you to see thumbnail images of your maps (with full-size image windows when you double-click on a thumbnail) along with the other descriptive information for each map.

If you already created an on-line collection catalog using the Vol. 22 edition of the CD, the Vol. 23 software will work fine with your existing information; you won't need to re-enter any data.

For anybody who collects a variety of things, not just maps, a generalized version of this software is now available, via download, at the MapRecord web site (www.MapRecord.com/CollectionManager.html). This generalized version lets you set up multiple collections, each with its own set of fields, appropriate to the particular kind of collectible.

The Macintosh Version of the AMPR

As announced last year, the Vol. 23 edition of the CD-ROM is the last that will be produced in a Macintosh version. Starting in 2009 (Vol. 24) only a PC/Windows version will be produced. I repeat here the comments from last year's News and Comments that explain the reasons for this:

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. 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.)

Other Topics

It was a relief to find that the most discussed antiquarian map topic during the past year was not map theft. Rather, the year's biggest news was the mounting of what was, perhaps, the biggest map extravaganza ever. The Chicago Festival of Maps involved exhibitions, lectures, meetings, and even such events as author readings and concerts. The Festival began in the fall of 2007 and parts of it extend through 2008. The highlight of the Festival was certainly the exhibit at the Field Museum: Finding our Place in the World, which ran from November through January. This exhibit - and the Festival of Maps in general - has been adequately reported on (in general with high praise), so that further comment here isn't really needed. It might be worth mentioning, though, that the Finding our Place in the World exhibit is subsequently moving to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, where it will be on display between March 16th and June 30th of this year (2008). Based on the web site that describes the exhibit at the Walters, Baltimore, as a city, is also putting on a concurrent set of events, thereby having its own Festival of Maps (perhaps in friendly competition with Chicago). Baltimore does have the honor of having been the location of the last truly magnificent exhibit of worldwide cartographic treasures, The World Encompassed exhibition which ran at the Walters in the fall of 1952. A span of 55 years between such world-class map exhibitions is a long time. But given the staggering amount of time and energy that must be involved in putting such a show together, it is perhaps not so surprising.

By now most people are familiar with blogs ("web logs", or online sites devoted to commentary, usually with a particular area of focus). Not surprisingly, blogs related to cartography and mapping have been increasing in both number and content. Though a lot of the cartographically related blogs focus on modern technology (GIS, Google Earth, etc.), there is a fair amount of commentary that touches on old maps and the history of cartography. One such blog, The Map Room, is produced by Jonathan Crowe, and its archives, as of today, show 213 entries related to antique maps, and some additional entries related to the history of cartography. This blog also provides a list of other blogs with related (geographic/cartographic) interests, and this list today contains links to 100 other blogs. Clearly one could spend all of one's time scanning this forest of commentary for information of interest to those of us who have a passion for old maps, not to mention the commentary that appears on the MapHist internet mailing list. This proliferation of web-based information does not seem to have stopped the production of books about old maps and the history of cartography. Witness, for example, the publications of 2007, including: Volume 3 of the History of Cartography; the second volume of Philip Burden's The Mapping of North America; The Mapping of Africa by Richard L. Betz; Cartographia by Vincent Varga; Maps: Finding Our Place in the World (the companion volume to the Field Museum exhibition). Nor has the production of the traditional periodical literature (in particular, Imago Mundi) been undermined by the new torrent of online publication. Of course, much of the content of blogs is re-reporting of material that has appeared elsewhere (whether in print or online), so the blogging world functions to a significant extent as a mechanism to alert and direct readers to other sources of more original material. I wouldn't want to predict how this will all evolve. There are plenty of prognosticators who say that the web will supplant traditional forms of publication, and plenty of prognosticators who say that it won't. Stay tuned.

People often ask me where the market in antiquarian maps is headed, or what price trends can be seen in the recent history of the market in old maps. Since I consolidate and publish information on the antiquarian map trade, I suppose it is reasonable to think that I might have some particular insight into the trends in this market. I must confess, though, that I don't spend time analyzing the data that I collect. I think that map dealers and auction houses have a much better finger on the pulse of the old map market and any trends that might be evolving there. There are some commonplaces that you hear from those in the trade: High end material is appreciating faster than less expensive material; it is getting harder and harder for dealers to acquire good new material (which, presumably, would indicate a trend of increasing value with the increasing scarcity); currency fluctuations have significantly affected the market (e.g., the drop in the value of the US dollar has made acquiring material in Europe difficult for US dealers and has made selling to US customers difficult for European dealers). No doubt these, and other, oft-heard opinions reflect some degree of truth, though they may also reflect what those in the trade want their buyers, and prospective buyers, to believe. My advice is to simply look at the data: Use the AMPR CD-ROM to look at the changes, over time, in the pricing for specific maps, or types of maps, in which you are interested. If there are trends, they will be seen in the data. If it is not in the data, then it probably isn't a trend. For those of you who want to pursue more extensive analysis of the data, remember that the AMPR provides the ability to export your search results to Excel (choose Export to Excel from the File menu of the search results window). Once the data are in an Excel spreadsheet, a world of statistical, analytical and graphical tools become available.

Jeremy Pool - March, 2008

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